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Imports of Inedible Meat and Egg Products Subject to Strict Requirements

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued April 23 a directive providing instructions to agency staff on how to review and verify the documentation and labeling required for imports of undenatured inedible meat and egg products.

Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, carcasses or parts of carcasses produced from amenable species that are not intended for human food cannot be offered for sale or transported in commerce unless they are naturally inedible for humans and are denatured or otherwise identified to deter their use for human food. Undenatured inedible livestock products may be imported provided that they are labeled, packed and handled in accordance with certain requirements. Similarly, the Egg Products Inspection Act prohibits the transporting of inedible eggs in commerce unless they are denatured or otherwise identified, but the competent authority of a foreign government may petition FSIS for approval to export undenatured inedible egg products to the U.S. for industrial use or animal food requirements. FSIS is responsible for verifying that undenatured inedible meat and egg products that have the appearance of being fit for human consumption, but that are intended for use in the manufacture of articles not for human food, meet the applicable regulatory requirements.

Highlights of the FSIS directive include the following.

Permits. Undenatured inedible products must originate from foreign countries eligible to export meat or egg products to the U.S. and must be denatured before movement from the foreign establishment to a manufacturer of articles not for human food unless the materials are covered by a numbered permit and are in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. Permit applications must include the applicant’s name, address, phone number, fax number and email address, a description of the type of business operations, and the purpose of the application.

Numbered permits are active for three years unless suspended or canceled due to a documented violation of the permit conditions or the conditions for entry of undenatured inedible products.

Permit holders must submit the completed FSIS form 9540-4, “Shipper Notification – Importation of Undenatured Inedible Product,” in advance of each shipment of covered products. USDA personnel review these forms for inaccurate information, ineligible product and shippers that do not have the required permit approval.

Animal Disease Restrictions. Importers of covered products are required to contact USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to verify that the product is eligible to enter the U.S. given any animal health disease restriction for the country of origin.

Inspection. Shipments of covered products are not required to present to FSIS at an official import inspection establishment and are not subject to reinspection.

Verification. USDA will conduct random verifications that the paperwork, seals and labels on designated shipments of covered products are in compliance with the applicable regulations and procedures. Shipments may also be targeted for verification if the permit holder has had previous violations, if there are noncompliance trends documented in the In-Commerce System, or if a review of import entry data obtained from the Automated Commercial Environment identifies shipments entering the U.S. without prior notification.

Labeling and Sealing. The outside container (or wrap) of undenatured inedible meat products must be labeled “Inedible – Not Intended for Human Food” in letters at least two inches high, in the case of containers such as cartons, drums, tierces, barrels and half barrels, and at least four inches high in the case of tank cars and trucks used to transport such product not in other containers. The conveyance (e.g., rail car, truck or container) must bear an unofficial seal applied by the shipper that identifies the permit number as well as an individual seal serial number assigned by the shipper, and the product must be accompanied by an invoice or bill of lading specifying the permit number.

All undenatured inedible, unwholesome or adulterated egg products must be identified with the name and address of the processor as well as the words “Inedible Egg Products – Not to Be Used as Human Food” and must be shipped under government seal.

Transportation. Covered products may not be transported in commerce to any consignee or storage location other than the one listed on the form 9540-4 received by FSIS. Diversion to any other consignee or storage location requires the submission of an updated form 9540-4 before the product is moved in commerce.

Violations. When a shipment of covered product does not meet all required conditions, USDA will conduct an investigation and control any product that has been identified. Investigators will request that U.S. Customs and Border Protection demand redelivery of any violative shipment and have the product re-exported. They will also follow up with the permit holder when compliance verification findings identify deficiencies in a shipment’s documentation, storage or usage. In addition, USDA will notify the competent authority in the country of origin when the violations implicate a foreign entity as the permit holder and if it plans to take action against the permit holder, including cancellation of a permit number and prohibition of shipping product into the U.S.

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