October 2, 2003


Indian Animal Feed Exports To Comply With New US Bioterrorism Law


Indian exporters of food and animal feed will soon have to comply with a new American legislation - the US Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Prepared and Response Act, 2002 will come into effect from December 12, 2003.


All facilities in US that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for consumption by humans or animals will have to undergo a one-time registration. This registration would also be required for manufacturers, processors and packers and agents overseas who directly export food and feed to US. The final set of regulations for imports will be released by mid-October, 2003.


Exemptions will be accorded to farms, restaurants, retail food chains, non-profit organisations that serve food in the US, as well as fishing vessels not engaged in processing, facilities under direct regulation of USFDA and foreign facilities that export food for further processing and packaging.


The registration facility will be available through the Internet, free of charge. Unregistered food exports to the US will be held at entry point for want of registration. The owner, operator or the agent can be subjected to criminal or civil penalties for non-compliance. The USFDA will also issue final record keeping and administrative detention rules by December 12, 2003.


The US had claimed this was not a protectionist measure, and would not affect the trade in food and animal feed, with assurance that the law would be applied equally to both domestic and imported products. These moves rather suggest a strong US resolve to weed out terror loopholes after the September 11 attacks, with bioterrorism now posing a potential threat through the contamination of food and animal feed.


The new set of regulation will include registration of food facilities, prior notice of imports by importers, maintenance of records of imports and administrative detention. Mr Riedel said that from December 12, 2003 the US importers should inform USFDA in advance about each food item imported or offered for imports, regardless of whether it would be consumed in US or elsewhere.