The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a final rule that will transfer the inspection of imported and domestically-raised fish under the order Siluriformes, including catfish, from the Food and Drug Administration to FSIS.

FSIS states that this rule will become effective in March 2016, beginning an 18-month transitional implementation period for both domestic and international producers. As of the effective date all Siluriformes fish and fish products will be under the regulatory jurisdiction of FSIS and no longer regulated by the FDA. Prior to the effective date, countries currently exporting such goods to the U.S. that wish to continue doing so must provide a list of establishments that currently export and will continue to export such goods to the U.S. They must also submit documentation showing that they currently have laws or other legal measures in place that provide authority to regulate the growing and processing of fish for human food and to assure compliance with FDA regulatory requirements.

During the transitional period (i.e., for 18 months after the effective date) FSIS will reinspect and conduct species and residue sampling on imported Siluriformes fish shipments at U.S. import establishments at least quarterly on a random basis. Also during this period countries wishing to continue exporting product to the U.S. after the transitional period must apply for a determination that their Siluriformes inspection systems are equivalent to that of the U.S. Countries that submit completed documentation demonstrating equivalency by the deadline will be able to continue exporting to the U.S. while FSIS conducts a full equivalency evaluation, which includes an on-site audit. If additional information is required, FSIS will request that the foreign country respond or resubmit complete equivalence documentation within 90 days.

Following the transitional period, FSIS will reinspect and conduct species and residue tests on all incoming shipments.

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