U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented the third phase of the Bioterrorism Act (BTA) which requires that CBP and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receive prior notice of all food for humans and animals imported or offered for import into the United States, effective June 4. Truck carriers must file prior notice two hours prior reaching a port of entry. Without prior notification the CBP will hold the goods at the port of entry or at an FDA-registered secure facility. The carrier can send the items back to its origin if compliance with the BTA cannot be fulfilled.
“It’s been going very smoothly so far— there has been minimal impact to the flow of goods across the border,” said Rick Pauza, spokesperson for CBP in its Laredo, TX branch.
According to David French, senior vp of government relations for the International Foodservice Distributors Assn., feedback from its members so far is positive.
“They’ve [our members] indicated they’ve seen very few hangups so far,” French said. “We’re all susceptible to some supply disruptions here and there— to date there has been no none. So far we are cautiously optimistic.”
International carriers have been sending CBP shipment manifests via automated broker interface (ABI). Officials have been engaged in outreach programs targeted to educating carriers on BTA regs since it was passed in September 2003, Pauza said.
“The third phase relates to the enforcement— prior to that we’ve been engaged in informed requirements that remind them to send the manifests,” Pauza said.