Best PracticesFoodImportInternational LawInternational TradeReasonable CareSeizuresU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)


posted by Jennifer Diaz March 7, 2019 1 Comment

Effective February 4, 20Tuna19, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has ordered the detention at all U.S. ports of entry of tuna and any such merchandise manufactured wholly or in part by the Tunago No. 61, which is a fishing vessel owned by Tunago Fishery Co., LTD a company located in Vanuatu. According to the CBP press release of February 6, 2019, importers of detained shipments are provided an opportunity to export their goods or demonstrate that they were not produced with forced labor. The Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307) bans imports of merchandise or food produced in whole or at least in part by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor, and indentured labor.

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EventsFoodImport AlertU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

International Boston Seafood Show – LIVE!

posted by Jennifer Diaz March 22, 2011 0 comments

I am at the final day of the annual International Boston Seafood Show held at the Boston Convention Center. With record attendance and a record number of exhibitors filling the convention center floor with extravagant booths overflowing with shrimp, fish, crab, lobster, and other seafood delectables from all over the world, the Show is a success.   After all, this is the largest seafood show in North and South America.  Perennial exhibitors Pescanova, Inc. and Preferred Freezer Services had the largest and most memorable displays.  In addition to my speaking on the topic of "Food Safety", my law firm exhibited at the Show for the first time, and shared a booth with food testing laboratory, ABC Research Corp.

Serious topics for the educational seminars included "Rebuilding Consumer Confidence in Gulf Seafood," and "Food Safety".   There was significant discussion of aquaculture.  For pure fun, the Show included a new Game Lounge, the 5th Annual Oyster Shucking Competition, the 2nd Annual Tweet & Meet Tweetup, and a keynote address from Wayne Rogers, the actor from the hit series M*A*S*H.

FoodU.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Seafood Fraud

posted by Jennifer Diaz March 9, 2011 0 comments

In 2010, Americans consumed almost 6 billions pounds of seafood.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring that the nation’s food supply, including seafood, is safe, wholesome, and properly labeled. That is a tough task considering 80% of the seafood we eat is imported from countries all over the world.  Unfortunately, the reality is that seafood fraud is common. Moreover, it can have not only economic, but food safety, consequences. 

According to a February 2009 GAO Report provided to the United States Congress which criticized the FDA for its lack of enforcement:

The most common types of seafood fraud are:

1.  shipping products through an intermediary country to avoid customs duties (transshipping),

2. adding excess amounts of water or ice to the seafood to increase its weight (over-treating),

3. substituting a different species of seafood for the species listed on the label (species substitution), and

4. including less seafood in a package than indicated by the label (short-weighting).

Read this typical January 20, 2011 Press Release from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding a company that pled guilty to false labeling of imported fish.  Read this typical Warning Letter from the FDA against a seafood company for misbranding its shrimp.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in January 2011, is a step in the right direction to give the FDA the legal authority to prevent, not just respond to, seafood fraud. As FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg stated in a recent press release:

This law represents a sea change for food safety in America, bringing a new focus on prevention, and I expect that in the coming years it will have a dramatic and positive effect on the safety of the food supply.

The topics of seafood fraud and the Food Safety Modernization Act will be discussed in detail at the "Food Safety Reform Update" panel at the International Boston Seafood Show on Sunday, March 20, 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. Learn how to prevent seafood fraud, how to detect seafood fraud, and what to do if you or your company are under investigation by the FDA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for seafood or other import fraud.

ImportImport Alert

FDA Import Alerts for Seafood

posted by Jennifer Diaz August 23, 2010 0 comments

Americans are constantly bombarded with warnings that the seafood we eat is contaminated with salmonella, listeria, or some other antibiotic, fungicide, or microorganism that will make us sick.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking more samples of imported seafood, holding more seafood for laboratory analysis, and rejecting more seafood than in past years. That is true of basa from Vietnam, crabmeat from Indonesia, and a variety of seafood from countries as far away as China, or as close to the United States as the Bahamas.

The FDA issues ‘Import Alerts’ to attempt to prevent  contaminated seafood (or specific products) from certain overseas suppliers from entering the food supply chain in the United States.  Seafood importers should be very familiar with Import Alert 16-81 – "Detention Without Physical Examination of Seafood Products Due to the Presence of Salmonella". 

The Obama Administration’s Import Safety Working Group Food Protection Plan encourages the FDA to issue more Import Alerts.  An Import Alert is an order to all FDA district officials to detain and examine imported seafood that is identified on an Import Alert, or to detain and examine any seafood shipped by an overseas company  that is listed on the Import Alert (i.e. the "Red List"). 

Import Alerts are issued on an almost daily basis by the FDA.  For Import Alert 16-81, the "Charge" reads as follows:

The article is subject to refusal of admission pursuant to Section 801(a)(3) in that the product appears to contain salmonella, a poisonous and deleterious substance, which may render it injurious to heath. [Adulteration, Section 402(a)(1).]

The explanation for such a food safety procedure was explained in a 2004 report to Congress by the U.S. General Accountability Office in Report 04-426 with a scathing criticism of the FDA’s "Food Safety" program.

More than 80% of the seafood that Americans consume is imported from an estimated 13,000 foreign suppliers in about 160 nations. If contaminated, imported and domestic seafood can cause foodborne illnesses with problems ranging from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to neurological damage.

Next year, when Congress passes, and the President signs, a new food safety law, suppliers, importers, warehouses, and transportation companies should all expect a lot more changes from the FDA.  The U.S. House of Representatives already approved H.R. 2749 entitled "Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009," and the Senate is now debating S.B. 510 entitled "Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010." With reports that now 90% of our seafood is from overseas, the increased use of aquaculture, and the continuing threat of contaminated seafood, companies which are manufacturing, shipping, warehousing, and transporting seafood will have to face the reality of more government regulation.