USA – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced improvements to the functionality and appearance of two types of export certificates issued for human food products exported from the United States.

Beginning June 29, 2020, the government agency said that the “Certificate to a Foreign Government” and “Certificate of Exportability” for human food products will include a unique QR code to allow easier verification of the authenticity of these certificates.

The “Certificate to a Foreign Government” is available for conventional foods, food additives, food contact substances, and infant formula that meet the applicable requirements of the FD&C Act for marketing in the United States.

The “Certificate of Exportability” is available for conventional foods, food additives, food contact substances, and infant formula products that cannot be legally marketed in the United States but that meet the certain requirements of the FD&C Act and may be legally exported.

According to the regulator, this added security measure will enable recipients of the food products from a U.S. exporter to scan the QR code and see whether a copy of the certificate has been issued by the FDA.

FDA noted that the use of QR codes will expedite verification of FDA-issued export certificates compared to the current system, which requires a stakeholder to create an account, contact the FDA to activate the account, and log in to verify the authenticity of certificates. 

The agency added that it will also be updating the format of the certificates to streamline the display of certificate data and will begin issuing the updated certificates on June 29, 2020.

“The FDA requests that importing countries continue to honor and accept any certificates issued with the previous format, through their expiration dates,” the regulator noted in a statement.

While FDA highlighted that it does not require export certificates to export foods to foreign countries, the government agency mentioned that a review of a certificate may be required by foreign countries as part of the process to import a product into those countries.

FDA also issues certain export certificates for some Center of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)-regulated food products upon request from industry.

This timely intervention comes at a time when the food industry if facing risks of disruption to normal trade flows amid the coronavirus pandemic. In one of the recent developments, China has suspended poultry imports from a plant owned by American meat giant, Tyson Foods Inc after Covid-19 outbreak was reported in the facility.

According to a statement by General Administration of Customs of China, the meat processor recently reported COVID-19 cases among its employees, prompting an assessment of the list of meats eligible for export to China.

Tyson Foods products already arrived or about to arrive in China will be temporarily suspended, said the customs authority. Imports of US poultry to China have increased rapidly since Beijing ended its five-year ban on trade in November 2019.

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