OTIs DECRY PROPOSED FDA RULES FOR IMPORTED FOOD
The customs broker and freight forwarder industry has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to significantly change its proposed rules for monitoring food imports or throw them out altogether.
The FDA’s proposed rules call for a prior notice of imported foods to be transmitted electronically to the agency by noon of the calendar day before shipments are due to arrive in the United States.
The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America said the proposed rules are “unrealistic, unduly burdensome, and will unnecessarily interdict the normal flow of trade in food products.”
The NCBFAA listed other problems with the proposed rule:
* The time for submission of prior notice disregards various factors in trade flows.
* The proposed rulemaking would unnecessarily create a new electronic interface for importers.
* The proposed regulations would require new Automated Broker Interface software.
* Detained food imports could congest ports.
* Registration of all facilities results in reporting duplication.
* Terms and definitions of proposed rules are “incompatible with their traditional meaning in customs and international trade.”
* Prior notice information required is burdensome.
* Responsibilities and liabilities of an “agent” should exclude brokers.
* Limiting authorized parties submitting prior notices to U.S. agents in discriminatory.
* Requirements of the proposed rulemaking would “cause economic harm to the importer and carrier without a commensurate increases in security.”
* Registration requirement would not achieve the FDA’s desired goal to track products.
* Carriers risk unreasonable burdens.
The Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Associations questioned the ability of FDA to efficiently recall imported foods moving through the supply chain.
“By the time that a recall or hold notice could be distributed to any one of the many possible locations that a food product shipment might pass through during the course of its movement, there is a high probability that the shipment — if indeed it ever passed through that particular location — would already have moved on to the next point in its itinerary,” the PCC said. “Thus, attempts to stop such a shipment at an intermediate point in its transit are likely to be inefficient, ineffective, and a huge waste of time for all parties concerned.”
The PCC suggested that it would be “more efficient to intercept such a food product at the known points (beginning and end) of its scheduled transit, at facilities that are generally or regularly used for the storage or handling of food products.”
The NCBFAA recommended that FDA defer to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection’s system for food import details.
“This is certainly no time for regulatory agencies to fight ‘turf wars,’ at the expense of the public,” the NCBFAA said. “Rather, FDA should partner with Customs in an effort to find one system that will satisfy the needs of both agencies, at minimum cost to the public.”