WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Food importers have precious little time to design, test and implement a Foreign Supplier Verification Plan, warned the FDA's former Director of Import Operations Domenic J. Veneziano. Speaking at a November 4, 2016, Town Hall Meeting sponsored by the Association of Food Industries (AFI) in Newark, N.J., Veneziano, who now serves as Independent FDA Regulatory and Strategic Consultant for global trade law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, explained that waiting to create a comprehensive FSVP could result in disruption of your supply chain, delays in entry processing, and in some cases, the exclusion of your products from the U.S. marketplace. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161107/436901 Veneziano offered several tips to help food industry professionals meet the May 2017 FSVP compliance deadline and avoid costly disruptions to their business operations. First, Veneziano explained, know if your company or facility is covered by the FSVP requirements. "Many people are under the impression that only the U.S. Customs importer of record is required to comply, "Veneziano said. "But the definition of 'importer' under the Food Safety Modernization Act is much broader and can include the actual CBP importer, as well as the owner or consignee of food being offered for import, and even the U.S. agent of the importer. All are at risk if FSVP requirements are not met." Another common misconception is that only large food importers are required to create a foreign supplier verification program, but nothing could be further from the truth," Veneziano said. "The statute does make some concessions for smaller companies, but there are still requirements to be met. So the rule is unless you meet a specific exemption, your company must create a foreign supplier plan."