March 9, 2018
US, EU take steps to revive shellfish trade
The US has proposed to the EU to open each other's market to allow trade of shellfish, saying consumers have been missing out on choices in the marketplace and that businesses in both the US and the EU have missed opportunities for new commerce.
US shellfish imports have not been allowed to enter the EU since 2010, while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not permitted the import of live, fresh or fresh-frozen molluscan shellfish from the EU since the 1980s.
"…I'm pleased to announce today (March 8) that the FDA and the EU have set in motion steps that will allow molluscan shellfish trade-or what you may know as clams, mussels, oysters and scallops, among others-between the US and the EU for the first time in years", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement.
The FDA has published a proposed determination that the safety controls in the EU are equivalent to those of the US. In return, the European Commission is completing administrative procedures for its own proposed determination that US safety controls are equivalent to those in the EU, a necessary step toward resuming trade.
According to the FDA, these critical equivalence determinations are a result of a multi-year, in-depth and cooperative review of shellfish safety systems in the US and the EU, in which technical experts on both sides have concluded that many of the safety controls in the EU and the US are equivalent.
"Both governments recommended these actions after reviewing existing food safety programmes, safety measures for molluscan shellfish, and on-site audits to verify each other's systems", Gottlieb said.
The FDA worked with the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference and the Pacific Coast and East Coast shellfish associations to identify interested US states that volunteered to participate in the initial equivalence evaluation.
If the determination becomes final, Massachusetts and Washington states will again be able to send bivalve molluscan shellfish to the European market. Shellfish exporters from Spain and the Netherlands will also be able to sell raw bivalve shellfish in the US market.
"These states and countries are just the first, and we are committed to continuing to work with the EU on procedures to add more states and European countries", explained Gottlieb. Rick Alberto