The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) under the United States Department of Agriculture has proposed continuing Viet Nam’s eligibility to export Siluriformes fish, commonly known as catfish, and fish products to the United States.
The US Federal Register has published a draft of a proposal to recognise three countries—Viet Nam, China and Thailand—as maintaining their eligibility to export catfish and fish products to the United States as proposed by FSIS.
In the draft recommendation, FSIS has recognised the catfish inspection system in Viet Nam, China and Thailand as equivalent to the US system. If this draft is approved, these three Asian countries will officially be allowed to continue exporting catfish to this market, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
The consultation process for this proposal will last for 30 days from the date of publication on September 14.
According to VASEP, all three countries have sent full documentation to FSIS regarding their quality control systems. American authorities will make a final evaluation of the information and verify that the systems are equivalent to American standards. FSIS also reviewed the documentation and conducted field inspections in these countries before concluding the draft.
The FSIS report represents the culmination of a years-long process as the US set new quality standards for catfish exporters and required exporting countries to prove they could meet those new standards.
On December 2, 2015, FSIS published the “Final Rule” on the inspection programme for catfish.
The final rule provided an 18-month period, from March 1, 2016, to September 1, 2017, for both the US domestic Siluriformes fish industry and international trading partners to transition to meet the new regulatory requirements of the US.
In Viet Nam, FSIS inspected eight out of the 13 facilities that export catfish to the US and found no shortcomings that could directly harm public health.
By the end of June, 2018, Viet Nam’s export of catfish to the US market reached US$196.8 million, a year-on-year increase of 11.6 per cent and accounting for 19.6 per cent of the country’s total catfish exports. — VNS
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