18 Dec 2015
USDA FSIS Releases Final Rule Establishing an Inspection Program for Fish under the Order Siluriformes
On November 25, 2015, the United States Department of Agricultural Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) released the final rule that establishes an inspection service for fish under the order Siluriformes, which includes for example catfish, basa, tra or swai.  This is to become effective 90 days from its publication in the Federal register (March 2016), and will then no longer be regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). For all domestic and imported operations there will be a transitional period of 18 months from the effective date, after which any facility/country products not part of the USDA FSIS inspection program, will not be allowed to be sold or imported into the United States (US).
Before the effective date of the final rule, countries currently exporting to the US and wishing to continue to do so, must provide a list of the establishments exporting these fish as well as written documentation of their regulatory authority and compliance with US FDA requirements.
During the transitional period, the USDA FSIS will conduct inspections during all hours of operation at domestic facilities that slaughter and process these fish. During the transitional period the USDA FSIS will re-inspect and conduct species residue sampling on imported fish. This will be done randomly and at least quarterly, and will be performed at the importing establishment.
Also during this transition period, countries wishing to continue to export these fish to the US beyond the transition period must apply and provide documentation of equivalency to the USDA FSIS program. The application process, full equivalency evaluation and on-site audit must be completed before the 18-month period has ended.
At the end of the transitional period the USDA FSIS will re-inspect and conduct species and residue tests on all incoming shipments into the US.
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