On March 17, 2020, in light of the ongoing global public health emergency and associated travel restrictions, the FDA announced a temporary policy adjustment for food facilities with certain supplier verification obligations under the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act and its implementing regulations.
Receiving facilities and FSVP importers that, as part of their Food Safety Plan or Foreign Supplier Verification Program, have determined to use onsite audits as the supplier verification activity are temporarily not required to conduct those onsite audits if certain criteria are met. According to the Guidance Document, the FDA does not intend to enforce the requirement for an onsite audit in the following circumstances:
The receiving facility or FSVP importer temporarily selects an alternative verification activity or activities, such as sampling and testing food or reviewing relevant food safety records, and modifies its food safety plan or foreign supplier verification program to incorporate the alternative activity or activities.
The alternative verification activities are designed to provide temporary assistance to provide sufficient assurances that the hazard requiring a supply-chain-applied control (or, for FSVP, the hazard that is being controlled by the foreign supplier) has been significantly minimized or prevented during the period of onsite audit delay.
The FDA notes that it will provide "timely notice" about the eventual withdrawal of this policy.