How To Import Produce Products Into The US
Your how-to guide on fresh fruits and vegetable imports into the US
If you are importing fresh produce items such as bananas, kiwis, grapes, mangoes and melons etc. into the US, you must know what government parties are involved, what regulations must be followed, and the fundamental aspects of produce importing.
- All fruits and vegetables entering the US are subject to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
- Under FSMA the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) was introduced
- The Produce Safety Rule established under FSMA applies to all production and handling of produce
- Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 introduced the requirement for facilities to register with FDA
- The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) introduced the Prior Notice Rule
- Plant and Plant Products are regulated by USDA and may require a permit and other detailed information on your declaration
- You will be acting as the Importer of Record. Therefore, you are the party ultimately responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the import declaration; as well as, the payment of applicable duties and taxes into the US
- Duty and tax must be paid upon importation
- The rate of duty is determined by the tariff of the commodity being imported, the value of the goods and, the origin of the goods
- Certain import documentation is required to be presented to the border services officer at the port of entry
- Your import may be subject to a customs review, inspection or audit prior to, at the time of, or after the importation. Additional fees may be levied by the Government of the US for these services
- You are required to keep your import records for five years following the date of import and can be audited by Customs at any point during this time
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FAQ: Produce Imports
All domestic and non-domestic food suppliers must adhere to the guidelines in FSMA. Many other regulations are governed by FSMA including the Foreign Supplier Verification Program and Prior Notice.
The final rule requires that importers perform certain risk-based activities to verify that food imported into the United States has been produced in a manner that meets applicable US safety standards. Importers must identify the FSVP party on their declaration.
The Produce Safety Rule is one of seven rules that were introduced under FSMA. This rule focuses on growing and handling conditions aimed at ensuring that food is safe. This rule set the standards for water quality, application of biological solid amendments such as fertilizer, sanitation of equipment, tools, and buildings, as well as health and hygiene training for produce handlers.
Both foreign and domestic facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption are required to register with the FDA as part of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. Registration must be complete and an 11 digit FDA registration number issued by FDA before you are able to import your goods into the US. FDA registration numbers are specific to a physical location and you will need one for each different production facility.
Prior notice is required for all food goods fit for human and animal consumption. This allows for FDA to more effectively target shipments for inspection by allowing a review of the goods submitted for clearance prior to the shipment arriving at the border. Each mode of transportation requires a minimal amount of time prior to the entry hitting the border after submission of the prior notice, giving FDA the time needed to review the shipment. Within the prior notice is where the FDA registration number is submitted to FDA, giving them access to view the producer of the goods as well.
At minimum, USDA will require the genus, species, and country of growth of your produce in order for them to determine the appropriate requirements for import.
USDA regulates products differently based on the areas that they are grown and the pest or noxious weeds that are present in those areas. To determine if your product would require a permit for import, you would search your specific product name and the country of origin in the USDA FAVIAR manual. This will list the requirements, such as permits and treatments, that would be needed for the import of your goods.
If a permit is required, be sure to review the permit thoroughly once issued. Additional requirements for your product that are not found in FAVIAR may be listed on the permit itself.