The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Costco Wholesale Corporation (Costco) as the first participant in the FDA’s Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
VQIP is a voluntary fee-based program that provides importers, who achieve and maintain control over the safety and security of their supply chains, expedited review, and importation of human and animal foods into the United States.
Costco has successfully demonstrated management of the safety and security of its supply chain, which will allow them to utilize VQIP to import certain food products into the U.S. with greater speed and predictability, avoiding unexpected delays at the point of import entry.
To participate in VQIP, food importers must meet certain eligibility requirements, including ensuring that the facilities of their foreign suppliers are certified through the FDA’s Accredited Third-Party Certification Program, which is also part of FSMA. If you are an importer interested in participating, the VQIP application portal is now open through May 31, 2020, to apply for benefits between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. The following resources provide more in-depth information about the VQIP program and process:
- Voluntary Qualified Importer Program
- Submission of VQIP Application User Guide
- Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) Informational Webinar Recording
- Public Registry of Accredited Third-Party Certification Bodies
VQIP supports the FDA Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food by incentivizing importers to use certified suppliers and robust processes and procedures to help ensure imported food is meeting U.S. food safety requirements.
Those interested may also submit questions to the VQIP Importers’ Help Desk via 1-301-796-8745 or email at FSMAVQIP@fda.hhs.gov.