Survey of FDA import data suggests food imported from low-GDP countries may pose higher risks.

  • Particularly now that FDA has issued a final rule to implement the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the food industry is more engaged than ever in the analysis of risks associated with foods imported from different countries and suppliers.
  • A survey of data from 2002-2012 on food import violations from the FDA Operational and Administrative System for Import Support (OASIS) indicates a distinction between high-risk and low-risk countries.  The countries with the highest refusal rates were major trading partners associated with high import volumes, i.e., Mexico, China, India, the United Kingdom, and Canada.  However, once researchers normalized refusals by volume, the list of high-risk countries did not include high-income countries.  Iraq emerged as the highest-risk country based on these data, followed by Somalia, Algeria, Zimbabwe, and the British Pacific Islands.
  • The researchers acknowledge limitations in the data, but they conclude that perhaps these results will help U.S. importers decide whether the cost savings associated with using suppliers from lower-cost source countries are worthwhile given the potential for increased risk.  Particularly as companies prepare for FSVP compliance, the impact of risk analyses such as this could produce significant changes in the global supply chain.