USDA Seeks Change in Importation of Blueberries from Chile
March 31, 2020
USDA/APHIS is advising the public that we have prepared a commodity import evaluation document (CIED) relative to the importation into the United States of blueberries from Chile. Currently, blueberries from Chile imported into the United States from an area in which European grapevine moth is known to exist must be fumigated with methyl bromide. Based on the findings of the CIED, we are proposing to also allow the importation of such blueberries under the provisions of a systems approach. We are making the CIED available to the public for review and comment.
DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before June 1, 2020.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
D=APHIS-2019- 0049 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Tony Roman, Senior Regulatory Policy Specialist, RCC, IRM, PHP, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 851-2242.
USDA Seeks Change in Importation of Citrus from South Africa
March 31, 2020
Washington, D.C., March 31, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has prepared and is accepting comments on a commodity import evaluation document (CIED) regarding fresh citrus imports from South Africa. Based on the findings of the CIED, APHIS experts determined that grapefruit, lemon, mandarin orange, sweet orange, tangelo, and Satsuma mandarin fruit from South Africa may be imported into the United States without restrictions on the ports of entry. Currently, fresh citrus from South Africa must be cold treated and imports are restricted to Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Wilmington, DE, and Houston, TX due to the presence of false codling moth in South Africa.
APHIS conducted enhanced inspections for false codling moth on citrus from South Africa at the four authorized ports over a two-year period. During that time, more than 2,000 shipments of citrus were imported with no detections of live false codling moth. As a result we are proposing to remove the port restrictions and authorize the importation of citrus from South Africa into all ports of entry in the United States.
March 27, 2020: Insight from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) reveals preparation for changes in cargo movement as the Covid-19 situation continues to progress. Despite Newark being under a “shelter-in-place” order, workers and truckers remain available and working since employees are able to present a ID indicating they are Essential Employees. Below is a link to an interesting Journal of Commerce article discussing more about what Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) expects. While most of the expected changes in cargo deal with dry cargo, any congestions created can slow perishables as well.
USTR has released a list of tariffs of 25% to be imposed on billions' worth of European imports starting Oct. 18 including some produce items. Section 15 of the notice in particular lists several fresh or dried produce items including citrus from Spain.
The Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) final rule, established through the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), requires importers to verify that the food they are importing into the United States has been produced in a manner that meets applicable U.S. food safety standards.
To do this, importers are required to develop, implement, and maintain a Foreign Supplier Verification Program which includes verification activities and records of those activities for each imported food from each foreign supplier. During an FSVP inspection, the FDA investigator will review the importer's records to determine their compliance with the FSVP regulation. To help importers determine the FSVP records they should develop and maintain, the FDA has made available a list of records required by the FSVP regulation.
CBP AQI Changes Inspection process in MIA International
July 9, 2018
Beginning July 9, 2018, CBP's agriculture inspections for Cut Flowers, Animal Products, Miscellaneous Cargo, Fruits and Vegetables (FV) must request inspection only through email.
All fruit and vegetable inspection requests should be scheduled 24 hours in advance with inspection date and location. This advance request apply only to fruits and vegetables arriving through cargo flights.
All FV inspections will be conducted by flight at the same time if inspections are scheduled in advance. Priority will be given to those who requested Agriculture Reimbursable Overtime (Ag ROT) and scheduled inspection in advance.
This change will affect all importers that bring cargo via air, except asparagus. This new requirement means that a Pre Alert is a must in order for us to be able to notify CBP AQI 24 hours in advance. If we do not receive a pre-alert on shipments it will inspected last.
Please be aware that the shipments most affected will be the short transit time shipments from the Caribbean and Central America.
USDA to take over FDA's food safety oversight
July 3, 2018
Food safety oversight of the produce industry would be moved from the Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture under a government overhaul plan unveiled by the White House.
Among other proposed reforms, the 132-page plan argues for a unified food safety agency within the USDA called the Federal Food Safety Agency.
"This consolidation will give USDA the clear mandate, dedicated budget, and full responsibility it needs for optimal oversight of the entire U.S. food supply," according to the document.
For more than 40 years, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has recommended that federal government consolidate food safety functions in a single agency, but proposals to make the idea a reality have never gained traction.
The White House said a single agency would provide better food safety outcomes and improved efficiency, according to the release.
"This consolidation will give USDA the clear mandate, dedicated budget, and full responsibility it needs for optimal oversight of the entire U.S. food supply," according to the plan. "Resources at the FDA will be freed up to focus on its core responsibilities of drugs, devices, biologics, and tobacco."
The White House cited Government Accountability Office analysis that concluded current fragmented federal oversight of food safety "has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources.
The USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service and the FDA are the two primary agencies with major responsibilities for regulating food and the substances, with the FSIS responsible for the safety of meat, poultry, processed egg products, and catfish, while FDA is responsible for all other foods, including fresh produce, seafood and shelled eggs.
"While the FDA and FSIS currently have very different regulatory regimes, consolidating FSIS and the food safety functions of FDA would allow for a better allocation of resources based on risk, better communication during illness outbreaks, and improved policy and program planning through development of a single strategic plan," the plan said.
In February last year, when the GAO repeated its recommendation for a unified food safety agency, Jennifer McEntire, vice president of food safety and technology for the United Fresh Produce Association, said efforts to create single oversight agency for food safety could involve a lot of time and bureaucracy but with little payoff.
"There would be a lot of difficulty getting there, and I don't think it will substantially improve public health," she said at the time.
FAVIR Database: Blackberry, Andean (Fruit) AND Raspberry, European (Fruit) from Ecuador into Continental U.S. Ports changes the Operational Work plan for these commodities has been signed and importers may now apply for APHIS import permits.
Fruits and Vegetables Manual: Table 3-75 Ecuador change language in footnote #3 has been changed to reflect the above-mentioned change
FDA Releases Draft Guidance for Intentional Adulteration Rule
June 19, 2018
Today, the FDA released the first of three installments of a draft guidance document designed to support compliance with the Intentional Adulteration (IA) Rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The remaining two installments are expected to come out later this year.
The FSMA final rule on intentional adulteration is designed to address hazards that may be intentionally introduced to foods, including by acts of terrorism, with the intent to cause wide-spread harm to public health. Unlike the other FSMA rules that address specific foods or hazards, the IA rule requires the food industry to implement risk-reducing strategies for processes in food facilities that are significantly vulnerable to intentional adulteration.
Food facilities covered by the rule will be required to develop and implement a food defense plan that identifies vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies for those vulnerabilities. These facilities will then be required to ensure that the mitigation strategies are working. The first compliance date for the largest facilities arrives in July 2019.
This first part of the draft guidance includes chapters on:
the components of the food defense plan;
how to conduct vulnerability assessments using the key activity type method;
how to identify and implement mitigation strategies; and
food defense monitoring requirements.
The second installment will focus more specifically on vulnerability assessments and training requirements, with the third including greater detail on corrective action, verification, reanalysis, and record keeping requirements.
This draft guidance, in its entirety, is intended to be a resource that will help the food industry implement the IA provisions in a flexible and cost-effective manner. To further assist and engage stakeholders, FDA will announce plans to hold a public meeting on the draft guidance when the second installment is released later this year. All three parts will be available for public comment upon release.
APHIS Proposes to Allow Imports of Fresh Avocado Fruit from Continental Ecuador
June 14, 2018
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to allow imports of fresh avocado fruit from continental Ecuador into the continental United States. After a thorough review, APHIS scientists determined the fruit can be safely imported under a systems approach to protect against the introduction of pests of concern.
A systems approach is a series of measures taken by growers, packers, and shippers that, in combination, minimize pest risks prior to importation into the United States.
In this case, the systems approach includes production site requirements, packinghouse requirements, shipment of commercial shipments only, and inspection of each shipment. A phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating these conditions have been met must also accompany each shipment. Avocados that are ineligible for export under the systems approach may still be imported following APHIS-approved treatment, such as irradiation.