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  5. Jerez Produce, Inc. - 654104 - 04/11/2023
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WARNING LETTER

Jerez Produce, Inc. MARCS-CMS 654104 —


Delivery Method:
Via Express Delivery
Product:
Food & Beverages

Recipient:
Recipient Name
Irma Flores
Jerez Produce, Inc.

2525 S Blue Island Ave Ste 102
Chicago, IL 60608-4819
United States

Issuing Office:
Division of Northern Border Imports

United States


April 11, 2023

WARNING LETTER

Re: CMS #654104

Dear Irma Flores:

On February 02 through February 28, 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) inspection of Jerez Produce, Inc., located at 2525 S Blue Island Ave Ste 102 Chicago, IL 60608-4819. We also conducted an inspection on August 26, 2021. These inspections were conducted to determine compliance with the requirements of section 805 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 384a) and the implementing FSVP regulation in 21 CFR part 1 subpart L.

The FSVP regulation requires that importers perform certain risk-based activities to verify that human and/or animal food they import into the United States has been produced in a manner that meets applicable U.S. food safety standards. You may find information relating to the FSVP regulation and your responsibilities to comply with the regulation through links in FDA’s FSVP web page at https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-modernization-act-fsma/fsma-final-rule-foreign-supplier-verification-programs-fsvp-importers-food-humans-and-animals.

During the most recent inspection, we found that you are not in compliance with the requirements of 21 CFR part 1 subpart L for the foods you import. Because of these significant violations, you are not in compliance with section 805 of the FD&C Act.

At the conclusion of the most recent inspection, our investigator provided you with a Form FDA 483a FSVP Observations. We acknowledge receipt of your response dated March 15, 2023, in which you stated that you planned to stop importing fresh produce from (b)(4) and will be buying from local wholesalers. We are unable to evaluate the adequacy of your response because you did not provide any supporting documentation demonstrating your planned corrective actions or steps you will take to comply with the FSVP regulation.

Your significant violations of the FSVP regulation are as follows:

You did not develop, maintain, and follow an FSVP as required by section 805 of the FD&C Act and 21 CFR 1.502(a). Specifically, you did not develop an FSVP for any of the foods you import, including each of the following foods:

  • Fresh jalapeno peppers from (b)(4), located in (b)(4)
  • Fresh epazote from (b)(4), located in (b)(4)
  • Prickly pear imported from (b)(4), located in (b)(4)

You import fresh produce that is “covered produce” as defined in 21 CFR 112.3. As an importer of covered produce, you must have an FSVP that demonstrates that your supplier is producing the food in compliance with processes and procedures that provide at least the same level of public health protection as those required under section 419 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 350h) (regarding standards for produce safety) and the implementing regulations in the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (21 CFR part 112).

During our inspection, our investigator noted your firm may qualify as a “very small importer” under 21 CFR 1.500. If you choose to comply with the modified requirements in 21 CFR 1.512, you must document that you meet the definition of a very small importer as required by 21 CFR 1.512(b)(1)(i). You are also still required to comply with the requirements in sections 1.502, 1.503, and 1.509. However, you are not required to comply with the requirements in sections 1.504 through 1.508 or 1.510. In addition, for each food you import, you must obtain written assurance, before importing the food and at least every 2 years thereafter, that your foreign supplier is producing the food in compliance with processes and procedures that provide at least the same level of public health protection as those required under section 418 or 419 of the FD&C Act, if either is applicable, and the implementing regulations, and is producing the food in compliance with sections 402 and 403(w) (if applicable) of the FD&C Act (21 CFR 1.512(b)(3)(i)).

During the inspection you provided several documents from your foreign suppliers which were obtained from the company which you purchase your imported food, (b)(4), located in (b)(4). During the inspection you stated you have not developed FSVPs for any of the foods you import. When requested, you were unable to provide an English translation of these documents and you did not provide a record of your review of the relevant documents or explain how they would apply to your FSVP program. Thus, these documents do not constitute an FSVP as required by section 805 of the FD&C Act and 21 CFR 1.502(a).

The above violations are not intended to be an all-inclusive list of violations of the FSVP requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in compliance with section 805 of the FD&C Act and the implementing regulation in 21 CFR part 1 subpart L.

This letter notifies you of our concerns and provides you an opportunity to address them. If you do not adequately address this matter, we may take further action. For instance, we may take action under section 801(a)(3) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 381(a)(3)) to refuse admission of the food you import for which you appear to be in violation of section 805. We may place the foods you import into the United States on detention without physical examination (DWPE) when you import the foods. You can find DWPE information relating to FSVP in Import Alert #99-41 at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/ialist.html. In addition, the importation or offering for importation into the United States of an article of food without the importer having an FSVP that meets the requirements of section 805 of the FD&C Act or the FSVP regulation is prohibited under section 301(zz) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 331(zz)).

You should respond in writing within fifteen (15) working days from your receipt of this letter. Your response should address the specific things you are doing to correct any violations. You should include in your response documentation and information that would assist us in evaluating your corrections (e.g., documentation of changes you made, such as a copy of your FSVP, records to demonstrate implementation of your FSVP, and any additional information that you wish to supply relevant to your compliance with the FSVP regulation).

If you believe that you are not in violation of the FD&C Act, include your reasoning and any supporting information for our consideration. If you cannot complete all corrections within 15 working days, you should explain the reason for your delay and state when you will correct any remaining violations.

Please send your reply to Food and Drug Administration, Attention: Alyssa Wenke, Compliance Officer, Division of Northern Border Imports, at Alyssa.Wenke@fda.hhs.gov. If you have any questions regarding this letter, you may contact CO Wenke via email. Please reference CMS #654104 on any documents or records you provide to us and/ or within the subject line of any email correspondence you send to us.

Sincerely,
/S/

Keith J. Jasukaitis
Program Division Director
Division of Northern Border Imports
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Division Northern Border Imports

 
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