On September 1, all Vietnamese farm raised catfish exporters and brokers to the US will be required to use a self-reporting tool and document that they have complied with Vietnamese law for food safety of catfish products.
This essentially means that catfish farmers must comply with VietGap, which has been Vietnamese law for a considerable length of time and for which farmers, producers and exporters have no excuse for not already having complied.
It also means they must comply with Decree 55 on catfish development, which just became effective July 1. Further it means, Vietnamese exporters must have a certificate of eligibility for food safety granted by the Vietnam government in accordance with Decree 55.
In summary, the new US program means exporters of catfish to the US after September 1, must comply with Vietnamese food safety laws and be certified by the Vietnam government as having done so as outlined in Decree 55.
The new FSIS inspection program does not in any way shape or form, place any burden on any Vietnamese farmer, producer, exporter or other of catfish products other than require them to comply with Vietnamese law for food safety if they want to ship catfish product to the US.
The latest Congressional action requiring reinspection at ports of entry starting August 1 came in a congressional appropriations act, which in an explanatory statement directed FSIS to begin the reinspection of all imported catfish products.
In appropriating moneys for FSIS for the next fiscal year beginning October 1, the US Congress said it ‘recognized FSIS’ diligent work in preventing 273 tons of adulterated or ineligible imported Siluriformes order product from entering US commerce since April 15, 2016.
It then added: Considering these alarming findings, the congress hereby directs FSIS to reinspect all imported Siluriformes fish product shipments, on a basis equal to that of all imported meat and poultry products from foreign countries.
The US congress also directed FSIS to complete a determination of equivalence for the catfish inspection program in foreign countries exporting Siluriformes fish product to the US such as Vietnam not later than 180 days after the end of the 18-month transition period.
In other word, FSIS was directed to complete an evaluation of the equivalence of the Vietnam government’s food safety scheme and make a final determination on whether it is the equivalent of that of FSIS by January 1, 2018.
FSIS has been selecting shipments of the Siluriformes order of catfish for reinspection and residue testing since April 15, 2016.