Consumers’ faith in the safety of the food they buy is priceless.
The price fruit and vegetable importers must pay for inspections mandated under the Food Safety Modernization Act, however, is becoming clear — and potentially costly.
New rules relating to administrative detention and prior notice requirements, which took effect July 3 with the effective date of the food safety law, look to promise increased industry fees for the heightened scrutiny.
The fees announced by the Food and Drug Administration in early August (scheduled to go into affect in October) apply to domestic and foreign facility reinspections, failure to comply with a recall order, and importer reinspections.
Given the budget situation in Washington, D.C., it’s not unreasonable in principle for the industry to foot some of the bill for safe fresh fruits and vegetables.
The alternative is worse — no funding and a powerless food safety law.
The resulting consumer confidence in the safety of the produce they buy is a valuable dividend for the trade.
With tax and spending pressures mounting in the Capitol, the FDA may embrace a completely user-fee funded agency like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s shipping point inspection service.
Inspection changes will increase the costs on food importers and ultimately consumers — maybe.
Price-sensitive produce shoppers can always choose to trade down to cheaper fruits or vegetables (or other foods altogether) or forgo purchases.
The best strategy to avoid paying reinspection user fees is to make sure food facilities are in compliance with U.S. laws and regulations and to maintain clear documentation.
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