Unibond Seafood Earns the First VQIP Certification of the Year Using EyeSucceed Remote Audits
When Unibond Seafood International needed to provide verification of Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) compliance for its facility in the city of Qingdao, located in China’s Shandong Province, NSF’s team in China was available to conduct the certification audits on-site. But with international travel significantly restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic, a critical third party was unable to send an official to join the proceedings in person.
VQIP certification was established by the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) under the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2018 (FSMA) to benefit carefully screened supply chain companies who import foods to the U.S. VQIP compliance verifies food safety practices and ensures expedited entry at U.S. ports. The program requires a facility to be audited by an accredited third-party certifier, and NSF Certification, LLC (a wholly-owned subsidiary of our parent company, NSF International) is one of the few such certifiers. In addition, an FDA-recognized accreditation body — in this case, ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) — must witness and certify the audits.
That’s where EyeSucceed came in. Using our livestreaming and data capture capabilities, along with Google smartglasses, the NSF team worked in real time with an ANSI officer in the U.S. to conduct full audits over the course of two days. Auditors in the field wore Glass devices powered by EyeSucceed software, and the U.S.-based ANSI official was able to witness and interact with the team throughout the whole process, experiencing the visual perspective of the auditor through our client interface on his computer. He could speak with the auditors, offer guidance and request information, capture images, record video and more.
As a result, Unibond Seafood’s subsidiary Qingdao UZP Food Processing Ltd. passed the audit and achieved FSMA VQIP certification. Beginning this fall, products exported by UZP to the U.S. will enjoy faster customs clearance and fewer inspections.
"The perfect management and smooth certification of Qingdao UZP Food Processing have left a very deep impression on us," said Zhao Wei, director of NSF’s China food safety program. “We will continue to work with excellent companies for consumer food safety, providing quality assurance through our high-quality services.”
The entire two-stage audit process, from the initial document review to the final meeting, was carried out seamlessly with the remote participation of ANSI officials — which, Ms. Zhao was quick to point out, reflects UZP's dedication to perfect execution and quality compliance. The company was the first seafood processing plant in China to obtain British Retail Consortium (BRC) certification (2004) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification (2006). Since then, UZP has earned Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX), International Featured Standard (IFS), Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) and other quality and social responsibility certifications.
UZP’s executive deputy general manager Sui Pengpeng told us, "We successfully passed the VQIP certification under the audit of NSF's senior auditors, which also enabled our company to align with U.S. FSMA standards to improve the company's food safety management system and increase our core competitiveness for entering the U.S. market. Our company is committed to providing consumers with healthy, nutritious and high-quality seafood products, adhering to the values of integrity, responsibility, focus and pragmatism.”
As the novel coronavirus causes companies to rethink their established auditing, verification and certification processes, we continue to collaborate with our clients in designing new efficiencies on the way to achieving their goals.