FDA Proposes Label Requirements to Prevent 'Port Shopping'

FDA has proposed a regulation to require labeling containers of food that are barred from entering the country and their accompanying documents as refused. The label would make it easier for FDA officials to detect previously-refused shipments. "This system will make it more difficult for food importers to evade import controls after being denied admission into the United States," said Randall Lutter, Ph.D., deputy commissioner for policy. "It will complement our ongoing efforts to monitor food imports."

When FDA refuses to admit a food into a U.S. port, the food must be exported or destroyed; however, some people attempt to bypass that refusal by attempting to ship that product to another port in hopes the food will be admitted there.

The rule implements a provision of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, which provided the FDA with new authority to protect the nation’s food supply. Under the proposed rule, all owners or consignees of refused food would be required to affix a label to the shipping container that read: "UNITED STATES: REFUSED ENTRY" in clear, conspicuous, print. A label would also have to be affixed to all documents accompanying the imported food such as invoices, bills of landing and electronic documents.

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