Review Category : TBT Technical Barriers to Trade

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.

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An importer in Southern California is on notice from the FDA for failing to take required steps under the “Foreign Supplier Verification Program” (FSVP) to assure that the smoked salmon and mackerel it brings into the U.S. have been produced in accordance with U.S. food safety regulations.

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On Jun 7, the Ministry of Industry and Trade organized a conference  on the structure of Vietnam’s export of food and beverages to the U.S.  Many businesses urgently said that they have fallen into the list of enterprises that do not meet the requirements for exporting to the US market while having a long history of exporting to the market for more than ten years. In addition, they did not receive any warning information from the authorities. In fact, new regulations were announced Oct 1 – Decc 31, 2016, and  applied from Jan 1, 2017., in just a few months from the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2017, the number of Vietnamese companies with valid FDA registration to export to the US market dropped from 1,845 companies down to only 806.

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The U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act is going into effect now. On May 30, 2017, a new regulation requiring U.S. food importers to identify their foreign suppliers and verify that they are using safe food processes and procedures became effective. But whether the industry will be in compliance remains highly uncertain.

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After an 18-month transition period, full enforcement of USDA inspection of siluriformes fish, including catfish will begin on Sep 1, 2017. According to some Vietnam news reports, “the change will have potentially disastrous consequences for Vietnam catfish producers, because while the FDA does spot checks on a small sample of imports as they arrive, the USDA requires on-site inspections of production facilities. For countries like Vietnam, setting up an equivalent system could take years and effectively cripple the industry.”

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has signed an arrangement with the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources recognizing each other’s food safety systems as comparable to each other. This is the third time that the FDA has recognized a foreign food safety system as comparable, the first being New Zealand in 2012 and Canada in 2016.

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The Seafood Import Monitoring Program final rule to combat fish fraud and illegal fishing was issued on Dec 8, 2016. The rule requires that fish species most often passed off fraudulently or at risk of illegal fishing be tracked from their source of origin before they can be imported to the United States. It requires retention of supply chain data by the importer of record and extends an existing NMFS requirement to obtain an annually renewable International Fisheries Trade Permit (IFTP) to import the seafood and seafood products regulated under this rule.

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A revised law that will come into effect on July 1 this year states that those who that feed their animals banned chemicals can face to up to 20 years in prison. Some households were fined at the beginning of March, after excessive amounts of salbutamol, a banned chemical that boosts the growth and production of meat in cattle, were found in their pigs’ urine.

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Seafood processors without compliant seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plans and dairy farms that sold animals that had illegal drug residues were among some the first warning letters released in 2016 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has the power to detain the company’s shipments at the U.S. border unless the issues are addressed in a timely manner.

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An estimated 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year. Over the past few years, high-profile outbreaks related to various foods, from spinach to peanut products, have underscored the need to make continuous improvements in food safety.

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