SILVER SPRING, MD – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a temporary policy for FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA) supplier verification onsite audit requirements to prevent disruption to the food chain during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. 

Normal FMSA regulations require receiving facilities and importers conduct supplier verification activities based on hazard analysis conducted as part of their Food Safety Plan (FSVP), it is sometimes determined that onsite audits are the most appropriate supplier verification activity.  

However, under travel restrictions created in response to COVID-19, many onsite audits are temporarily unpractical. Therefore, the FDA created new policy to lift FSMA onsite audit requirements until further notice if other supplier verification methods are used instead.  

Other verification methods include sampling and testing or review of food safety records which are designed to provide sufficient assurance that hazards have been significantly minimized or prevented during the period of onsite audit delay. 

"While our grocery stores are facing unprecedented demand, we are working with industry to minimize disruptions in the supply-chain due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions," said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn.  

"The policy released today will help to minimize disruptions so that the food industry can meet the demand while also continuing to conduct supplier verification activities that are designed to ensure food safety and following government travel restrictions and advisories,” he said. “While we are confident that stores will remain open and supply will continue to meet demand nationwide, we ask all Americans to only purchase enough food and essentials for the week ahead." 

The FDA anticipates that receiving facilities and FSVP importers will resume onsite audit after it becomes practical to do so, and the FDA intends to provide timely notice before withdrawing the new policy. 

The FDA is also closely working with industry and federal and state partners to closely monitor the food supply chain for any shortages. The administration is in regular contact with food manufacturers and grocery stores. 

While inventory of some foods at individual grocery stores around the US may be low or out of stock, the FDA said there are currently no nationwide shortages of food, and no wide-spread interruptions have been reported in the US food chain.