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The Importation and Exportation of Foods

Food Law FSC-421


FDA and US Customs share jurisdiction over imported food products

Foods may be imported into the US so long as they meet the same standards as foods produced in US.
USDA Jurisdiction over imported meat products

Pursuant to 1906 Meat Inspection Act

US Customs Service

Sub unit of the US Department of the Treasury Charged with assessing duties, fees, etc Required to notify the FDA of the entry of any food products into the US Non-conforming food shipments will be seized by Customs and released only after written approval from FDA.


Food products which are imported into the United States are require to meet all applicable requirements at the time of importation Must be conforming at the time they are offered for entry into the US Not adulterated or misbranded


Certain types of foods must comply with registration requirements:

Specified dairy products (acidified milks, yogurts, cultured products Low acid foods Acidified foods Meat processing facilities

Must be manufactured according to specific processes

Entry and Sampling

Shipment must be filed with Customs within 5 days Customs notifies FDA if food product Notice to proceed or, Notice of Sampling Registered foods almost certain to be sampled

Entry and Sampling

Notice of Detention if nonconforming Notice of Refusal if nonconforming after sampling Shipment destroyed unless exported within specified time

Importers Options if Refused

Request hearing, within 10 days, to defend acceptability Permission to re-label or re-condition (IBP) Export shipment Request judicial review of Notice of Refusal


FDA may order destruction of nonconforming goods if not reconditioned FDA may declare a bond violation if shipment distributed without Notice of Acceptance FDA may order seizure and condemnation of nonconforming goods

Export Option

Shipper has option after FDA condemnation of exporting the nonconforming goods as alternative to destruction if:
Adulteration (or misbranding) did not occur after importation Importer had no knowledge of the nonconformity Shipment is not otherwise in violation of US law


Goods intended for export need not meet FDA requirements if:
Products meets specs of importing country Not in conflict with laws of importing country Labeling of shipment clearly indicates that it is for export

Export Exemption

Export Exemption

Is US less concerned with safety of products intended for export? Exempts exports from jurisdiction of FDA? Distribution into interstate commerce, nullifies the exemption Referred to as the commodity dumping provision (Thalidimide, DES, Cyclamates)

Export Exemption

How does exporter prove shipment complies with exemption requirements? Export Certificate issued by Official in importing country

Exporter wants to ship dried figs to Australian importer who uses them in coffee flavors. FDA seizes shipment because contaminated by worms and therefore Adulterated.
What result? FDA alleges contaminated figs = impure material under Australian law.

What result?

US v Catz American 53 F. 2d. 425

Importer has options of re-conditioning goods to make them conform to Australian law or can divert them to some permitted use. So long as it is possible for the goods to comply with importers laws, US will allow exportation


Agents Scully and Mulder tipped off about Progressive Inc., who is discounting nonconforming alien frog legs which were refused entry into US, to salvage purchasers Salvage purchasers selling frog legs in interstate commerce at premium prices FDA wants to seize and condemn shipment Progressive asserts export exemption as defense What result?
US v. 76,552 Pounds of Frog Legs

Banana Wars

1980 Bananas big business 1993 EU introduce preference for bananas from former colonies (404/93 Regime) Latin America countries protested and negotiations began but not binding 1995 WTO established (rulings binding on members)

Bananas Producers

Banana Wars

1996 Chiquita, Dole, Del Monte gave $5 Million in contributions to Democrats and Republicans Same year US rep challenged EU preference for bananas from former EU colonies Bananas from former EU colonies allowed into EU tariff free

Preference established as reparations for ills of European colonization of Africa and others

Banana Wars
US alleged this was barrier to free trade Costing US market $520 million/year Chiquita and Dole accustom to monopoly (term Banana Republic) Caribbean countries started growing pot as opposition to US banana policies

Banana Wars

1997 WTO (under US pressure) ruled in favor of US Said EU preference was violation of international law

Chiquitas right to make a profit superseded preference for former EU colonies farms
WTO appellate body upheld decision against the EU

Banana Wars

EU responded by establishing a new scheme which tried to get around WTO problems with preference (first come/first serve policy) 1999 - US responded by imposing 100% tariff (worth 1 billion dollars to EU markets) on a list of EU exports to US Mostly EU luxury items

Banana War Tariffs

Pecorino Cheese Sweet biscuits, waffles Bath preparations and salts Candles Handbags, and plastic coated items normally carried in handbags

Greeting cards Cashmere clothes Paper boxes and cartons Cotton bed linen Metal chandeliers and other light fixtures Danish hams

Banana Wars

April 2001 Banana Wars resolved US agreed to drop tariffs on EU exports EU agreed to drop preference Quota for bananas from former colonies decreased Quota for US produced bananas increased Almost forced Chiquita into bankruptcy Lost 40% of its share of EU market