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U.S. groups among respondents to UK import inspection plans

U.S. groups among respondents to UK import inspection plans

More than a dozen comments were received on plans in the United Kingdom to change the rate of checks on specific imported products.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) comment period earlier this year covered amending official controls and special conditions on some food and feed of non-animal origin from certain countries. 

Before leaving the European Union, updates to EU imported food legislation, made by the European Commission based on Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) alerts and official controls every six months, were applied in the United Kingdom.

The first review since the UK left the EU included the removal of three products, inspections on five items being scaled back, and four products added to the list for checks that include documentary, identity, and physical examinations such as sampling.

Controls affecting the United States

The three removed products are pistachios from the United States because of aflatoxin, goji berries from China because of pesticide residues, and dried grapes from Turkiye (formerly Turkey) because of Ochratoxin A.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture submission was not made public but covered groundnuts (peanuts) that will be inspected at a frequency of 10 percent for aflatoxin, instead of 20 percent, which was initially proposed.

The American Peanut Council was one of several groups to ask for supporting evidence and risk assessment to review. FSA and FSS refused to release this information but added such data may be available in the future.

The American Peanut Council said it was not aware of any rejections by the UK of peanuts. FSA and FSS said the UK is working on a system to enable countries to access this information. In the meantime, border notification data will be provided to the USDA via the U.S. embassy.

Removing pistachios from enhanced controls because of aflatoxin was supported by American Pistachio Growers.

Other feedback and changes

The Government Chemist urged authorities to ensure UK Official Laboratories have sufficient capability and capacity to undertake pesticide residue analysis at the increased volumes. One commodity was delisted for pesticides but 11 were subject to increased controls.

The Fresh Produce Consortium said it was not clear what the criteria were for the inclusion of new products, the increased controls, or removal, adding there was no transparency in the decisions.

Reduced inspections cover groundnuts from Brazil and China and hazelnuts from Turkiye and Georgia because of aflatoxins plus betel leaves from Bangladesh for Salmonella. The four needing enhanced controls were lemons and peppers other than sweet from Turkiye and groundnuts from Brazil because of pesticides and betel leaves from Thailand for Salmonella.

Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority raised concerns about betel leaves from Malaysia and ethylene oxide in spices from India. FSA and FSS said they were “picking up some issues” with ethylene oxide but there was not sufficient evidence to support the listing.

The Blacksea Exporters Association and Sabir Hazelnut company asked for Turkish hazelnuts to be removed from controls because of improvements in the non-compliance rate in recent years. However, FSA and FSS said there was still a risk with hazelnuts from Turkiye.

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