FDA issues interim final rules for imported food shipments

| 10/17/2003

As part of its efforts to protect the nation's food supply against terrorism and other food-related emergencies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently published interim final rules requiring prior notice of imported food shipments and registration of food facilities.

While the new regs would not require many truckers to register, they could create delays for the truckers at the border if the shippers do not have their paperwork in order.

The rules, which will be subject to a 75-day comment period, would require pre-notification of cross-border food shipments at least two hours before arrival at the border.

In addition, the rules would require domestic and foreign food facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States to register with the agency by Dec. 12.  The new rule on the registration of food facilities stipulates that “transport vehicles that hold food only in the usual course of their business as carriers” do not have to register with the FDA.

The proposed rule issued earlier this year would have required importers give notice by noon the day before the arrival of a shipment of food into the United States for all modes of transportation, including truck. FDA says the final regulation could see time frames further reduced as part of FDA and Customs and Border Protection’s plan to coordinate border-management activities more efficiently.

The FDA rules remain different from advance cargo information rules proposed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Under the customs proposal, shipments qualified under the FAST program would be subject to a pre-notification interval of only 30 minutes and one hour for all other imports.

The two new regulations are part of the requirements of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002.

To read the interim final rules, go to www.fda.gov/oc/bioterrorism/furls/.