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U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued Jan. 16 a message warning importers to ensure that the foreign food facilities from which they import food into the U.S. are registered with the Food and Drug Administration.
The 2002 Bioterrorism Act requires all domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food, beverages, food ingredients, pet foods or dietary supplements for consumption in the United States to register as a food facility with the FDA. Section 102 of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act updated that law to require such registrations to be renewed between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 of each even-numbered year. The initial renewal deadline was Dec. 31, 2012, but in light of various circumstances the FDA is exercising enforcement discretion for late-filed renewals through Jan. 31 (click here for more information). Nevertheless, facilities are encouraged to renew their registrations as early as possible.
The FDA may suspend the registration number of any facility that fails to comply, resulting in a prohibition on the importation, distribution or sale of food from the suspended facility. CBP adds that beginning Feb. 1 if a foreign food facility fails to renew its registration, food from that facility that is being imported or offered for import into the U.S. could be held at the port or refused upon arrival into the U.S.
The FDA is therefore encouraging import filers who file prior notices for food shipments to contact clients with high-volume food shipments, inquire about the FSMA registration renewal status of foreign manufacturing facilities associated with their shipments, and confirm any new registration numbers. CBP states that doing so could greatly mitigate any prior notice shipment delays related to registration on or after Feb. 1. In the event of an import prior notice ABI transaction rejection indicating that the transmitted registration is invalidated, filers should contact the individual submitting the information and request updated registration information for correction.