Steps to monitor flour and rice imports for fortification
Import monitoring of fortified wheat flour, maize flour, and rice is based on documentation audits, rapid qualitative tests, and / or laboratory reports of quantitative tests performed on imported samples.
Why regulate imported food?
Monitoring the safety and quality of imports allows countries to ensure basic food safety and that consumers receive the health benefits of fortification. Additionally, it creates a fair market for the industry by ensuring equitable fortification costs for domestic producers as well as importers. Import monitoring documents whether imports comply with the national standard and provides a basis for issuing specific quality improvement recommendations to importers. Lastly, import monitoring warns officials at importation sites of failing brands that deserve more stringent examination.
Who is responsible for import monitoring?
Import monitoring is the job of those who work at customs and inspect imported foods. Fortification monitoring should be integrated into existing inspection positions, instead of creating new positions. In many countries, multiple agencies may be responsible for monitoring food products at points of entry. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly outlined, documented, and communicated to avoid duplication of efforts and to ensure clarity on who is ultimately responsible for follow-up and enforcement.
What should import monitoring policies include?
Countries should monitor imports regardless of volume, but country capacity/ability may determine how in-depth monitoring goes. At the very least, each country should have a policy or protocol for how imported products are checked at border points for safety and quality. This policy or protocol should include:
- How and when to inspect imported foods for pests and food pathogens to ensure compliance with national standards, including food fortification standards
- What agency is responsible for the imported inspections
- What audit or testing methods should be used on the imported products
- How and when samples should be taken
- What to do when non-compliance with national standards is found
- Sampling plan for imported foods based on the applicable food laws and standards and on the resources available in the country
See this guide for four steps of import monitoring as well as two illustrations of how to interpret a Certificate of Analysis.
Also download two forms to use for import monitoring record keeping.
Top photo credit: istockphoto