Back to Specialty Food News

SFA's Import Alerts 101: How They Impact Makers

Regulatory Update

During last week's SFA Regulatory Update webinar, “Import Alerts: How to Understand Them & What Makers Should Know,” attorney Jeni Lamb Rogers detailed how import alerts can affect businesses that ship products or ingredients into the U.S.

“Import alerts are top of mind this year," said Rogers. "I view import alerts as a critical part of your food safety system if you are engaged in the import of any foods… or if you are using any imported ingredients."

Quick Bites

• The current state of food safety: 15 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported but only a small percentage of products entering the U.S. are inspected, said Rogers.

• Import alerts and DWPE: FDA uses import alerts to flag potentially dangerous products from entering the U.S. Flagged products undergo Detention Without Physical Examination. Although a business may verify compliance, the process can be long and product may spoil.

• Building a Food Safety Plan With Import Alerts: Rogers explored ways to incorporate checks and verifications to ensure imported products are not detained. 

Different Alert Types

Rogers outlined the import alerts to be aware of and gives insight into each:

• A country- or area-wide alert is put out because of a history of violation from a specific type of product.

• A manufacturer-specific alert arises in an instance where foreign facilities refuse FDA inspection or undergo a problematic FDA inspection.

• A product-specific alert is sent out when a scheduled process for creating a product is not properly filed.

• A shipper alert occurs when the specific shipper is linked to a problem with products.

• A worldwide alert occurs when countries come together to issue a product-wise ban due to a safety issue.

In the video below, Rogers discusses some of the reasons why food products and facilities may be issued an import alert and how to avoid them.

Rogers recommended searching for active import alerts on FDA’s website.

“When I’ve worked on FSVPs and supply chain programs in the past, I’ve encouraged [businesses] to search their suppliers, their ingredient names, and the regions in which their suppliers are based,” said Rogers.

To learn more about import alerts, watch the webinar on demand in the SFA Learning Center.