3 Keys to a Compliant FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification Program

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Jennifer Kinion
Contributing Writer

The Food Modernization Act (FSMA) requires U.S. food and beverage companies to proactively ensure the safety of imported food through the Foreign Supplier Rule. While most facilities already have industry best practices in place for the onboarding and management of all vendors, it is now especially critical for importers to ensure their processes are FDA-compliant. Here are three tactics which can be used to support a FSMA foreign supplier verification program (FSVP).

1. Upgrade From Paper-Based Systems

A compliant FSVP requires quality recordkeeping. From supplier verification procedures to hazard analysis protocols, virtually every piece of data within your supply chain must be thoroughly documented. For this reason, paper-based systems simply aren’t equipped to handle the robust program requirements set forth by FSMA. New systems provide food safety teams with mobile forms, thereby creating real-time visibility as data is collected and stored. All records should then become easy to manage and access – long before your company is scheduled for an FDA inspection. Using food safety technology to digitize documents in a centralized system also enhances accuracy and reliability, as all data is time- and date-stamped when it is entered.

2. Strengthen Supplier Communication

Relying on emails for document exchange weakens the communication throughout your supply chain. Your management teams must be able to trust in the integrity of records, but with crowded email inboxes, it becomes increasingly difficult to track versions of critical documents like certificates. Likewise, using spreadsheets for vendor management is time-intensive, complex, and unreliable. A centralized online supplier system can provide enterprise-wide visibility to critical supplier programs, thereby helping to ensure compliance at all levels.

3. Monitor Ongoing Performance

Vendor score carding is useful for helping companies make informed business decisions. Yet, because foreign supplier reevaluation and record keeping are two pillars of a compliant FSVP, it is no longer just a good practice to monitor supplier performance and risk. Companies should actively be tracking KPIs and using these insights to ensure all suppliers are consistently meeting regulatory requirements to avoid citations such as Form 483's.


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