Import to USA

INFORMATION FOR IMPORTERS OF EUROPEAN BEEF, PORK AND MEAT PRODUCTS IN THE USA 1

Under US law contained in the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD & C), food importers, including red meat and its products, intended to be placed on the market of the United States are responsible for ensuring that these products are safe, free of contamination and marked in accordance with the requirements of the United States.

From May 2017, pursuant to the Law on The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced mandatory Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for importers of meat and meat products not subject to the provisions of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). This applies to products containing less than 3% of raw meat or less than 2% of heat-treated meat or containing less than 30% fat, tallow or meat extract. Based on these programs, importers are required to carry out a number of risk-based activities to verify that food imported into the USA meets US safety requirements.

In addition, under the FSMA Act, the VQIP (Voluntary Qualified Importer Program) was established by the FDA. Importers who join the program are required to ensure a high level of security controls in the supply chain by certifying entities producing red meat and its products exported to the USA. Thanks to this, importers gain the possibility that the imported goods will be subject to accelerated import procedures.

1 https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/importing-products/import-checklist
2 The information comes from the FDA website: www.fda.gov

Early notification of imported batches of goods

The Prevention of Bioterrorism Act 2002 requires that importers notify the FDA in advance of each imported batch of food products. Notification may take place through an electronic system maintained by the Customs and Border Protection Office (CBP - Customs and Border Protection), i.e. ABI / ACS (maximum 30 days before the shipment arrives) or through a specially dedicated interface available at:

https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/ImportsExports/Importing/ucm2006836.htm

In the case of notification via the above interface, it can be made at the latest 15 days before the arrival of the shipment.

Delivery to the place of customs clearance 3

When reporting the transport of meat or its products to be imported into the United States, this transport must be reported by the importer to the Customs and Border Protection office (CBP) at the place of customs clearance by filing the "import notification" and assuring the customs warehouse. After passing customs control, the goods are controlled by the FSIS. However, for the FSIS to carry out the inspection, the importer is obliged to submit an appropriate FSIS application in paper form or through a special electronic system that is part of the Public Health Information System (PHIS). The application should be forwarded as soon as possible.

The FSIS control takes place in one of the official import control centers indicated by the importer in the application. The verification consists of visual evaluation, evaluation of the relevant documentation accompanying the consignment and, where appropriate, the taking of samples for laboratory tests, depending on the type of control to which the package is subject.

3 Source: www.cbp.gov

Product labeling in retail sales

U.S. regulations require that packaging and retail containers containing food products sold as part of interstate trade in the U.S. must be labelled in English (Puerto Rico allows Spanish) with the following information: product designation, name and address or telephone number of the company (this may be the manufacturer or distributor, foreign or domestic), a list of ingredients in descending order or by their highest content in the product, the net weight in both English and metric measures, allergens and, in most cases, nutritional information. Such information must be provided as it guarantees that it will be available to consumers as part of the purchase and use of these products in the normal manner. Smaller producers may be exempted from the obligation to provide nutritional information on the label. Imported products must contain information on the country of origin of the product on the label.

Regardless of the above guidelines, importers should be in constant contact with the CBP and FSIS or visit the websites of these bodies of the American administration in order to check for possible updates and learn details about the import of red meat and its products from the European Union.