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Foreign meat, poultry, eggs, and catfish with “equivalence status”

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) updated its “Equivalence Status Chart” yesterday.   It’s a helpful guide for those who want to know where their food may be coming from.  It includes country specific footnotes.

“Equivalence Status” is a grade assigned to foreign countries with a food safety inspection system that achieves a protection level for public health that is equivalent to that applied domestically in the United States for the FSIS-regulated product they wish to export.

argentinebeef_406x250Americans now spend almost  20 cents of each food dollar on foreign products.  Currently there are 46 countries cleared to export at least one FSIS regulated products to the U.S.

Like its domestic responsibilities, FSIS is charged with determining the “Equivalent Status” for meat, poultry, eggs and egg products, and catfish species.

According to the agency’s instructions for foreign governments,  a country’s food safety inspection system is to provide standards equivalent to FSIS to ensure other non-food safety requirements are met, such as humane handling, accurate labeling, and assurance that meat, poultry, or egg products are not economically adulterated.

It says “equivalence does not mean” that the country is required to develop and implement the same procedures that the U.S. does, but rather the country must objectively demonstrate how its procedures reach   the U.S. level of protection.”

Countries wishing to become eligible to export meat, poultry, or egg products to the U.S. are responsible for  demonstrating  that they have a regulatory food safety inspection system that is equivalent to that of the U.S.

FSIS is this country’s Central Competent Authority (CCA) responsible for regulating and inspecting meat, poultry, and egg products.  The CCA is a country’s national government authority that is responsible for ensuring the safety and truthful labeling of the food supply.

The U.S. is a party to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), which also is a FSIS responsibility as the international agreement  sets out the basic international rules for food safety, animal, and plant health standards.

The largest group of countries that have met “equivalence”  to export meat to the United States.  They include:

Argentina

Australia

Belgium

Bulgaria

Colombia

Croatia

Czech Republic

Dominican Republic

Estonia

Finland

Germany

Greece

Guatamala

Ireland

Italy

Korea

Latvia

Macedonia

Panama

Paraguay

Poland

Romania

Samoa

Spain

Switzerland

Countries on the “Equivalence Status Chart” for exporting poultry to the U.S.  include:

Brazil

China

Colombia

Costa Rica

Croatia

El Salvador

Honduras

Japan

Mexico

Morocco

Poland

South Africa

Ukraine

The next largest group of countries may export eggs and egg products to the United States.  They are:

Argentina

Brazil

Bulgaria

Denmark

Germany

Greece

Italy

Lithuania

Mexico

Poland

Romania

The final group includes countries cleared for exporting Siluriformes (catfish species) to the United States.    This group includes:

Vietnam

Thailand

Nigeria

Jamaica

India

Guyana

El Salvador

Bangladesh

© Food Safety News