USDA Outlines Actions for Failure to Provide Prior Notification of Meat, Poultry, Egg Imports
The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a notice instructing its import inspection personnel on their responsibilities when an importer of record fails to provide FSIS with prior notification of a shipment for import and the enforcement action they are to take when an import shipment is not presented to FSIS for reinspection (failure to present).
According to FSIS, the meat, poultry and egg products import regulations require that the IOR or agent apply for the inspection of product that is to be offered for import as far as possible in advance of the anticipated arrival of each consignment. Applicants must submit electronic or paper import inspection applications to FSIS in advance of the shipment’s arrival but no later than when the entry is filed with CBP. In this context, electronic means applications submitted through the Automated Commercial Environment partner government agency message set into the Public Health Inspection System. Paper applications are FSIS form 9540-1, Import Inspection Application.
Imported meat, poultry or egg products are considered “in commerce” when they are off-loaded at a location other than the official import inspection establishment or other FSIS-approved location designated on the import inspection application. The FSIS considers imported product that bypasses FSIS reinspection to be in commerce and an FTP. When a product has been identified as an FTP, FSIS will request, through CBP, a redelivery of the shipment and appropriate penalties. If any imported product identified as FTP has been removed from the original cartons or further processed, FSIS will initiate a regulatory control action to deal with the product, including any further processed product that contains the FTP product, to ensure appropriate disposition (i.e., destruction) of the product. The FTP product, whether intact or partial, will no longer be eligible for reinspection. Product still in the original shipping containers may either be destroyed or returned to the country of origin.
FSIS states that import inspection personnel are to verify that the application for each shipment presented for reinspection has met the prior notification requirement. Below are examples of when this requirement has and has not been met.
- if the lot status for any lot in the application is “PGA received” or “Ecert received,” the prior notification requirement has been met
- if the lot status for any lot in the application is “pre-arrival,” the prior notification requirement has been met
- if the application status is “unsubmitted” and the lot status is “CBP received,” or if the application cannot be retrieved in PHIS, the prior notification requirement has been met if (a) a paper FSIS form 9540-1 was submitted to import inspection personnel in advance of the shipment’s arrival, no later than when the entry is filed with CBP, at the official import inspection establishment; and (b) import inspection personnel have not had time to enter the application in PHIS
- if import inspection personnel are unable to retrieve an application in PHIS when the shipment is presented for reinspection, and the IOR has not submitted the FSIS form 9540-1 in advance of the shipment’s arrival as required, the prior notification requirement has not been met (an exception to this is ports of entry where CBP does not have authority over customs (e.g., American Samoa and Guam)
FSIS further states that when import inspection personnel identify a shipment that has not met the prior notification requirement they are to (1) notify the IOR through import plant management that the shipment did not meet the prior notification requirements and that if this continues future shipments that do not meet the prior notification requirement will likely be refused entry (documenting this discussion in a memorandum of interview), (2) after entering and submitting the application in PHIS, access the first lot of the application, select “lot tracking,” then “prior notification violation;” and (3) proceed with the reinspection unless otherwise instructed through supervisory channels.
Import inspection personnel are also to monitor the PHIS for FTP shipments as outlined in FSIS Directive 9900.1, Imported Product Shipment Presentation, and take action as the directive instructs.
The Recall Management and Technical Analysis Staff is to perform data analysis of PHIS lot tracking data to determine the extent of prior notification violations. If an applicant, IOR, official import inspection establishment or other involved entity is consistently not meeting prior notice requirements, RMTAS is to provide the trend analysis to the Office of Policy and Program Development to determine what action is to be taken, as well as any communication to inform the IOR, through the import plant management, about the conclusions of the analysis. To facilitate intergovernmental coordination and prevent future FTPs, RMTAS are to provide FTP notifications to the foreign competent authority, which may then choose to communicate the issue to the exporter, as appropriate.