USDA’s Food Safety and inspection Service’s plans to reinspect all shipments of imported Siluriformes fish and fish products, including catfish, beginning on Aug. 2, one month earlier than originally scheduled, according to a Federal Register Notice published on July 3. Countries that want to continue to export siluriformes fish and fish products, including catfish, to the U.S. must submit a complete “Self-Reporting Tool” and supporting documentation to USDA/FSIS by Sep 1, 2017.
The new requirement is being imposed one month before the end of the 18-month “transition period” before full enforcement of foreign and domestic catfish inspection by FSIS takes effect on Sep 1. On that date, countries that export catfish species and their products to the United States will be required to use a self-reporting tool (SRT) and document the equivalence of their inspection systems to that of FSIS.
The foreign countries and establishments listed on the FSIS website as eligible must submit a complete SRT and supporting documentation by Sep 1 to continue exporting Siluriformes fish to the U.S., according to FSIS.
The agency says it is encouraging importers and brokers to communicate and coordinate closely with their foreign business partners, inspection establishments, and FSIS district offices in advance of the full compliance deadline.
FSIS has worked during the transition with foreign countries who wish to continue exporting Siluriformes fish to the U.S.
The Congressional action came in the 2017 Appropriations Act, which in an explanatory statement directs FSIS to begin the reinspections of all imported catfish and catfish products. In appropriating $1.032 billion for FSIS for fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, Congress said it “recognizes FSIS’ diligent work in preventing from entering or removing 547,928 pounds (more than 273 tons) of adulterated or ineligible imported Siluriformes product from U.S. commerce since April 15, 2016.”
It then added, saying: “In light of these alarming findings, the agreement directs FSIS to reinspect all imported Siluriformes fish and fish product shipments, just as all imported meat and poultry products from equivalent countries that export product to the United States are reinspected, upon the date of enactment of this Act.” [i.e., Aug 2, 2017].
“The agreement also directs FSIS to complete a determination of equivalence for the Siluriformes inspection program in a foreign country exporting Siluriformes fish and fish products to the United States not later than 180 days after the end of the 18-month transition period. [e.g. Sep 1, 2017 + 180 days = about Mar 1, 2018].
During the 18-month transition period, Mar 1, 2016 – Sep 1, 2017,
▪ FSIS will use “interim reispection strategy’ … Imported Siluriformes fish and fish product shipments will be selected for reinspection and subjected to species and residue testing on at least a quarterly basis.
- Plants Eligible to Export Meat (Siluriformes Only) to the United States In accordance with the FSIS rule published on December 2, 2015 (80 FR, 75590), Vietnam and other countries that have submitted documentation to FSIS showing that they have laws or other legal measures in place that provide the authority to regulate the growing and processing of Siluriformes fish for human food, and that will ensure compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory requirements in 21 CFR part 123, Fish and Fishery Products, and have submitted a list of facilities approved to export Siluriformes fish from Vietnam
After Full Enforcement, beginning Aug 2, 2017,
1.For exporters, All imported shipments of Siluriformes fish/fish products into the U.S. will be required to be presented for reinspection to USDA/FSIS.
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Food Safety Training Summit: Growing Markets for Vietnam’s High-Quality Products, Aug 28, 2017 will provide extensive information about (1) how Vietnamese food suppliers can qualify to export to the U.S. under the new regulations of the Food Safety Modernization Act that are now coming into effect, and (2) the new procedures for the full enforcement of the USDA/FSIS inspection of Siluriformes fish, including catfish, that go into effect on Aug 2, 2017, and ALL catfish imports from Vietnam will be re-inspected by the USDA/FSIS.