The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a final rule that, effective Oct. 30, will add Lithuania to the list of countries eligible to export meat and meat products to the United States. As a result, meat from cattle, sheep, swine and goats slaughtered in Lithuania on or after Oct. 30, or parts or other products thereof, and processed in certified Lithuanian establishments will be eligible for export to the U.S. At this time, Lithuania intends to export canned, dried and smoked beef and pork products to the U.S.
All covered products will be subject to reinspection at U.S. ports of entry by FSIS inspectors for transportation damage, product and container defects, labeling, proper certification, general condition and accurate count. FSIS will also conduct other types of reinspection activities such as incubation of canned products to ensure product safety and taking product samples for laboratory analysis to detect any drug or chemical residues or pathogens that may render the product unsafe or any species or product composition violations that would render the product economically adulterated. Products that pass reinspection will be stamped with the official USDA mark of inspection and allowed to enter U.S. commerce. Those that do not meet U.S. requirements will be refused entry and required to be returned to the country of origin, destroyed or converted to animal food within 45 days.
Lithuania first requested approval to export meat, poultry and egg products to the U.S. in 2004 and narrowed that request to meat and meat products in January 2012. FSIS states that its review of Lithuania’s laws, regulations and inspection implementation showed that its meat inspection system requirements are equivalent to the Federal Meat Inspection Act and its implementing regulations as well as the U.S. food safety system for meat and meat products. Under this rule the government of Lithuania will have to certify that those establishments that wish to export meat or meat products to the U.S. are operating in accordance with requirements equivalent to those of the U.S. FSIS will verify that this is so through periodic, regularly scheduled audits of Lithuania’s meat inspection system.