The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a document, titled, Activities to Enhance the Safety of Imported Producewhich provides an overview of the agency’s ongoing efforts to advance the safety of produce imported into the U.S.

Activities to Enhance the Safety of Imported Produce follows FDA’s 2019 document, titled, Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food (Import Strategy), which describes the agency’s approach to enhancing the safety of food imported into the U.S. The most recent document details how the 2019 strategy applies specifically to imported produce. FDA states that the success of its imported food safety efforts largely relies on the safety of produce, as fresh fruits and vegetables represent a significant volume of imported food. At present, the U.S. imports roughly 32 percent of its fresh vegetables and 55 percent of its fresh fruit.

Activities to Enhance the Safety of Imported Produce outlines how FDA is working to enhance the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables through the four goals established in the 2019 Import Strategy, including:

  • Goal 1: Food Offered for Import Meets U.S. Food Safety Requirements—FDA is engaging in compliance verification activities to ensure that industry is adhering to applicable U.S. food safety requirements through: inspections and testing, information-sharing with foreign regulatory partners, and education and outreach activities to raise awareness and understanding of food safety requirements
  • Goal 2: FDA Border Surveillance Prevents Entry of Unsafe Foods—When conducting border surveillance activities at U.S. ports of entry, FDA uses information, such as an importer’s compliance history and risks associated with a commodity, to inform the agency’s actions, including import entry screening, examination, sampling, and testing
  • Goal 3: Rapid and Effective Responses to Unsafe Imported Food—FDA’s process for responding to outbreaks and other food safety incidents includes efforts to remove unsafe produce from the marketplace if it has entered the country, which is supplemented by further steps the agency takes to mitigate the risk of future outbreak events
  • Goal 4: Effective and Efficient Food Import Program—In line with the New Era of Smarter Food Safety, FDA is implementing an adaptive, risk-informed, and cost-effective management system and infrastructure to support organizational excellence, performance, and accountability.

The new document describes how FDA’s work to help ensure the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables is a critical component of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety in building on the preventive standards established by the Food Safety Modernization Act. The overview is intended to help stakeholders better understand the many tools that the agency employs to ensure parity of oversight between domestic- and foreign-grown produce, and to ensure that safe produce is entering the U.S. market.