WSC: FDAÆS PROPOSED FOOD SAFETY RULE ôIMPRACTICALö FOR CARRIERS
A group of liner carriers warned that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposed regulations to enhance security of imported foods could cause serious operational problems for ocean carriers and container terminals.
The Washington-based World Shipping Council represents more than 40 liner carriers involved in international trades. These carriers transport more than 90 percent of U.S. imports and exports.
“The council cannot comment on the various impacts that the proposed rule would have on U.S. food importers, but we are concerned that, if importers cannot reasonably comply with the new rules, ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, and U.S. ports could become congested with cargo that is being held by FDA because of compliance issues,” the World Shipping Council said in its review of the proposed rulemaking.
“We do believe, however, that, to the extent that the government requires advance filing of detailed food product information, the food importer, not the transportation provider, is the appropriate party to provide such information,” the council added.
Another concern with the FDA’s proposed rules is the prior reporting of food shipments that move in-transit through U.S. ports to overseas destinations. The FDA proposes to require the “arriving carrier or, if known, the in-bond carrier” to report transit food cargoes. The World Shipping Council is strongly opposed to this application of the proposed rules for transit freight.
The FDA based its proposed rulemaking on Title III of the 2002 Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act.
The World Shipping Council said the agency’s approach to meeting the legislation’s mandates as it relates to imported food “goes beyond what was intended by Congress and does nothing to promote the goals of the Act, which is to protect U.S. food consumers.”
The council recommended that FDA access import-related information from U.S. Customs Automated Manifest System, which now requires vessel operators and non-vessel-operating common carriers to file their cargo manifests 24 hours prior to loading on U.S.-bound ships overseas. “This process should be adequate to meet any advance screening needs for food product cargo that is not being shipped for consumption in the United States,” the council said.
The council said it continues to support the efforts of Congress and the FDA to protect the nation’s food supply. However, “the proposed rule would seriously disrupt international commerce of food products between foreign countries and seriously impair the use of U.S. ports for the relay and transshipment of such commerce,” the council said.