The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a video outlining the general process for importing human foods into the U.S. The video provides basic information for importers, foreign suppliers and exporters, and customs brokers on the steps they need to take to successfully import food into the U.S.

FDA must receive notification before food is offered for import into the U.S. The purpose of prior notice is to enable FDA to target inspections or examinations of the imported food at U.S. ports of entry more effectively, and to determine whether there is any credible information that the imported food shipment presents a threat or serious risk to public health.

Imported foods must be pure, wholesome, safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, and contain informative and truthful labeling in English. FDA does not certify, license, or otherwise approve individual food importers, products, labels, or shipments prior to importation. At the time of importation, FDA will verify compliance with applicable requirements. FDA also conducts field examinations and analyzes samples of food to ensure they comply with applicable standards and/or label requirements.

Additionally, FDA checks the import alert database to ensure a manufacturer or product is not subject to detention without physical exam (DWPE) and listed on an import alert.

Most facilities that manufacture, process, pack, receive or hold food must register with FDA every two years.

Spanish and Simplified Chinese versions of the human foods video will be available in the near future.