USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) updated its “Equivalence Status Chart” yesterday. It’s a helpful guide for those who want to know where their food may be coming from. It includes country specific footnotes.
“Equivalence Status” is a grade assigned to foreign countries with a food safety inspection system that achieves a protection level for public health that is equivalent to that applied domestically in the United States for the FSIS-regulated product they wish to export.
Americans now spend almost 20 cents of each food dollar on foreign products. Currently there are 46 countries cleared to export at least one FSIS regulated products to the U.S.
Like its domestic responsibilities, FSIS is charged with determining the “Equivalent Status” for meat, poultry, eggs and egg products, and catfish species.
According to the agency’s instructions for foreign governments, a country’s food safety inspection system is to provide standards equivalent to FSIS to ensure other non-food safety requirements are met, such as humane handling, accurate labeling, and assurance that meat, poultry, or egg products are not economically adulterated.
It says “equivalence does not mean” that the country is required to develop and implement the same procedures that the U.S. does, but rather the country must objectively demonstrate how its procedures reach the U.S. level of protection.”
Countries wishing to become eligible to export meat, poultry, or egg products to the U.S. are responsible for demonstrating that they have a regulatory food safety inspection system that is equivalent to that of the U.S.
FSIS is this country’s Central Competent Authority (CCA) responsible for regulating and inspecting meat, poultry, and egg products. The CCA is a country’s national government authority that is responsible for ensuring the safety and truthful labeling of the food supply.
The U.S. is a party to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), which also is a FSIS responsibility as the international agreement sets out the basic international rules for food safety, animal, and plant health standards.
The largest group of countries that have met “equivalence” to export meat to the United States. They include:
Countries on the “Equivalence Status Chart” for exporting poultry to the U.S. include:
The next largest group of countries may export eggs and egg products to the United States. They are:
The final group includes countries cleared for exporting Siluriformes (catfish species) to the United States. This group includes: