SAFEGUARDS | FoodNO. 067/16

SafeGuardS boy holds fish

Effective March 1 2016, the United States Department of Agricultural Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA FSIS), is performing continuous domestic inspection of fish under the order Siluriformes. This includes catfish, basa, tra and swai.[1]

Effective April 15 2016, all imported product of these species will be part of the USDA FSIS inspection program. For all domestic and imported operations, there will be a transitional period until September 1 2017, to comply with the USDA FSIS regulations and the applicable law.

After that, any product not part of the USDA FSIS inspection program or facility, not complying with the law/regulations, will not be allowed to be sold or imported into the United States (US).

During the transitional period, the USDA FSIS will conduct inspections during all hours of operation at domestic facilities that slaughter, and quarterly for those facilities that process these fish. During this period the USDA FSIS will re-inspect and perform sampling on imported fish. This will be carried out based on information provided by the US Food and Drug Administration and other information, and performed at least quarterly at the 120 USDA FSIS import establishments. The inspector will verify country eligibility, facility eligibility, inspection certification from the government of that country, and import inspection application USDA FSIS form 9540-1. Product will be re-inspected for certification, transportation damage, proper labeling, carton count and cleanliness.

Four countries; China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, have provided a list of operations in order to continue to export these fish to the US during the transition period, and now must apply and provide documentation of equivalency to the USDA FSIS program. The application process, full equivalency evaluation and on-site audit should be completed before the 18-month transitional period has ended.

During this transitional period, the USDA FSIS personnel will train personnel in compliance and only will take action if the product is adulterated or misbranded. Product is considered adulterated if produced without the benefit of USDA FSIS inspection, has violative pesticide or veterinary drug residue, has undeclared allergens or has been prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions. Product is considered misbranded if offered for sale as “Catfish” but doesn’t contain fish from the family Ictaluridae, if the Net Weight statement is over-declared, or if the label is missing.

At the end of the transitional period the USDA FSIS will re-inspect and possibly conduct species, chemistry and microbial tests on all incoming shipments into the US.  Testing will be performed at the USDA FSIS’s Eastern and Western laboratories. Tests include salmonella, heavy metals, species analysis of catfish labeled products, 86 veterinary drugs and hormones including gentian violet, malachite green, nitrofurans, and 105 pesticide residues.

For any product that passes USDA FSIS re-inspection, the carton will be stamped with the official inspection legend and for product that fails the re-inspection, the carton is marked United States Refused Entry. Failed product is required to be disposed of in 45 days, which is either re-exporting, destroying, or converting to animal food with the US FDA approval to perform this conversion. 

SGS is committed to keeping you informed of regulatory news and developments. Leveraging our global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions, including analytical testing, audits, certifications, inspections and technical support. We continually invest in our world class testing capabilities and state-of-the-art technology to help you reduce risks, and improve food safety and quality. For further information please visit our website.

For enquiries, please contact:

James Cook
Food Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager

t: +01 973 461 1493

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