Today FDA released a draft guidance to provide information about what actions by a foreign food establishment or government are considered a refusal of inspection. “FSMA gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the authority to refuse imported food admission into the United States if the agency is not permitted to inspect the foreign establishment that produced the food,” FDA stated in a release.
The 12-page draft guidance, Refusal of Inspection by a Foreign Food Establishment or Foreign Government, outlines how the agency goes about scheduling inspections of foreign establishments (despite the fact that FDA is not required to pre-announce inspections), the inspection activities themselves, and very detailed examples of what it considers an inspection refusal from a facility (from a lack of communication with FDA that delays the agency’s request to schedule an inspection, to preventing an FDA investigator from entering a facility, when a facility sends staff home and tells FDA that it is not producing product).
The draft also details what it considers to be refusal of inspection by a foreign government. Some of the actions include preventing FDA investigators from entering the country or asks them to leave the country before an inspection is scheduled; and limiting access to areas of the facility that manufacturing, processing and packaging occurs; and limiting investigators from collecting samples for analysis.
If either a foreign food establishment or a foreign government refuses an inspection, they will stay on the agency’s Red List of Import Alert 99-32 until FDA is able to schedule and conduct an inspection.