US importers that qualify as small businesses are now less than six months away from the deadline for achieving compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) Rule. Published from September 2015 through May 2016, the seven rules that comprise the FSMA institute greater levels of control and safety in all aspects of the food industry. The publication of each rule brought with it a deadline for food processors, manufacturers, and distributors, with small businesses (defined as having fewer than 500 employees) being granted more time to achieve compliance. Now, two years later, we are starting to see the arrival of these small business deadlines, such as the September 18 deadline for the Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food. With this first wave of deadlines having passed, small businesses now face the next series of due dates, including the March 19, 2018 compliance date for the FSVP Rule, which requires that U.S. importers institute supplier verification procedures to ensure that foreign items meet the same standards that are imposed on domestic goods.

The development of a comprehensive foreign supplier verification program cannot be completed overnight, and with less than six months to go before the arrival of the deadline, small businesses that do not currently meet the rule’s requirements are running out of time. In a recently-published article on foodmanufacturing.com, Registrar Corp (an organization that specializes in providing assistance in meeting FDA regulations) presents a basic overview of what needs to be included as part of an FSVP. If you are looking for a place to start in the development of your organization’s FVSP, this article should point you in the right direction.