FSIS is responsible for assuring that U.S. imported meat, poultry and processed egg products are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and properly labeled and packaged.
The Import & Export Library identifies countries that have been determined, through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Equivalence Process, to have equivalent meat, poultry, or egg product food safety inspection systems are eligible for import. Additionally, the Import & Export Library identifies the meat, poultry, or egg products each equivalent country is eligible to export to the United States. The eligible products for each country are identified using the Process Category, Product Category, and Product Group listed in the FSIS Product Categorization document and utilized in the Public Health Information System (PHIS).
- Process Category: High-level category based on whether and how products are processed after slaughter.
- Product Category: More specific category that links the product to the appropriate species and provides more information on the production process.
- Product Group: Most detailed description of eligible products used by FSIS to program appropriate types of inspections in the FSIS PHIS.
Additionally, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) restricts certain animal products from entering the United States because of animal disease conditions in the country of origin. Applicable APHIS animal disease requirements that may have an impact on a country’s eligibility to export product to the United States are referenced on individual country pages below the country’s eligibility table.
Restricted cooked products from regions where Foot-And-Mouth disease exists must be consigned to an official import inspection establishment (“I-house”) identified on the list of APHIS Approved Rapid Defrost Facilities.
This checklist is provided as an overview of the steps needed to be taken when you want to import meat, poultry, or processed egg products to the United States.
- Products must originate from certified countries and establishments eligible to export to the United States.
- The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) restricts some products from entering the United States because of animal disease conditions in the country of origin. For information on restrictions related to animal diseases and information about APHIS, contact the APHIS Veterinary Services, National Center for Import and Export.
- Countries and establishments become eligible following an equivalence determination process by FSIS.
- Imported products must meet the same labeling requirements as domestically-produced products.
- After filing the necessary forms for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and meeting animal disease requirements of APHIS, all imported meat, poultry and processed egg products must be presented for inspection by FSIS at an official import establishment.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Requirements
Importers into the U.S. must file a customs entry form with the appropriate port director.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
APHIS restricts some products from entering the U.S. because of animal disease conditions in the country of origin. For information on restrictions related to animal diseases and information about APHIS, contact the APHIS Veterinary Services, National Center for Import and Export.
After an incoming shipment has met U.S. Customs and Border Protection and APHIS requirements, the shipment must be reinspected by FSIS at an approved import inspection facility.
FSIS import inspectors first check the documents to assure the shipment is properly certified by the foreign country. Inspectors next examine each shipment for general condition and labeling and then conduct the inspection assignments.
Port-of-entry reinspection is directed by the Public Health Information System (PHIS), a centralized computer database that stores reinspection results from all ports-of-entry for each country and for each establishment. Reinspection of products is performance-based in that better performing foreign establishments have their products reinspected less frequently. Many of the procedures for product reinspection that FSIS follows are contained in the PHIS Import Directives.
The PHIS determines the type of reinspection based on compliance history of the establishment and country. Several types of inspection (TOI) may be assigned by the PHIS including net weight checks of retail packages; examination of the containers’ condition; examination for product defects; incubation of canned goods; and laboratory analysis for product composition, microbiological contamination, residues, and species. Additionally, FSIS randomly samples products at ports for drug and chemical residues.
An annual import residue plan sets the initial sampling rate for each country based on its volume of product exported to the U.S. For more information, the National Residue Program (also referred as the "Blue Book") and the National Residue Data (also referred to as The "Red Book") are available on line, or by contacting USDA, FSIS, Food Animal Science Division (FASD), (202) 690-6566, or Fax at (202) 690-6565.
Products that pass reinspection are stamped with the USDA mark of inspection and are allowed to enter U.S. commerce for distribution and use as if they were produced domestically. If imported meat or poultry products do not meet U.S. requirements, they are stamped "U.S. Refused Entry" and within 45 days must be exported, destroyed, or converted to animal food (if eligible and with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration).
FSIS is responsible for ensuring that domestic and imported meat, poultry and egg products distributed in U.S. commerce as human food are wholesome, unadulterated, and properly labeled. This authority extends to the control of undenatured inedible meat and egg products that have the appearance of being fit for human consumption, but are intended for the manufacture of articles not for human food. FSIS permits the movement of imported undenatured inedible meat and egg products, subject to approval of a permit issued by FSIS and prior notice given in advance of the arrival of each shipment moving under this permit. Inedible poultry must be denatured regardless of the intended use (9CFR 381.193). Undenatured inedible permits are not issued by FSIS for any inedible product that is denatured. To request an approval to import undenatured inedible meat or egg products, applicants may contact the Office of Field Operations at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Federal inspection regulations permit the entry of small amounts of meat, poultry or egg products for personal consumption 9 CFR, Part 327.16, 381.207, and 590.960. The amount of a personal consumption shipment cannot exceed 50 pounds for meat, poultry, or dried egg products and 30 pounds for liquid or frozen egg products. The products must be for personal use only and cannot be sold or distributed in U.S. commerce.
Such products are exempt from FSIS import regulation, but they are subject to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) animal health requirements. These requirements change frequently, and travelers should contact APHIS for up-to-date information by visiting the website or calling (301) 851-3300.
All travelers entering the United States are required to declare any products of animal origin (including soup or soup products) they may be carrying. The declaration must cover all items carried in checked baggage, carry-on luggage, or in a vehicle. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at the ports of entry will examine the items and determine if they meet the entry requirements of the United States. Additional information on bringing agricultural products into the United States is available from CBP.
FSIS must be notified prior to the import of meat, poultry and egg products samples destined for laboratory examination, research, evaluative testing, or trade show exhibition. Such samples are not subject to FSIS import inspection requirements but are subject to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) animal disease restrictions. They may originate in any foreign country, provided there are no animal health restrictions imposed by APHIS. Samples originating in countries with animal health restrictions will require an APHIS permit prior to importing.
The importer, broker, or applicant must notify FSIS prior to Importing the samples using FSIS Form 9540-5 (3/12/2004), "Notification of Intent for the Importation of Meat, Poultry or Egg Product Samples for Laboratory Examination, Research, Evaluative Testing, or Trade Show Exhibition." Submit the form to FSIS, Recall Management and Technical Analysis Division (RMTAD), Import Operations (IO) at email@example.com.
If the sample is a cooked beef product from a country where foot and mouth disease or Rinderpest exists, it must be presented with an APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) import permit. Sample shipments for research or evaluation that present with a VS import permit require CBP inspection only. Sample shipments of cooked beef product from a country where foot and mouth disease or Rinderpest exists that do not present with a VS import permit are to be treated as a commercial shipment and reinspected by FSIS.
Once in the United States, these samples may be used only for laboratory examination, research, evaluative testing, or trade show exhibition. They may not be sold, distributed, or consumed by the public. If the products are used for consumer test marketing or sales promotions, they will be regarded as commercial shipments and subject to FSIS import regulations, including the requirement that they must originate in eligible foreign countries and establishments and must be certified for export to the United States.
FSIS regulates the importation of egg products, which must originate from countries and plants eligible to export to the United States. Currently, Canada and The Netherlands are the only countries where plants are eligible to export egg products to the United States. Animal disease restrictions may be applied to some egg products by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
- Letter to Importers/Brokers on Ineligible and Misbranded Egg Products (Apr 4, 2016)
- Letter to Countries on Ineligible and Misbranded Egg Products (Apr 4, 2016)
FSIS is responsible for inspecting egg products under the authority of the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) (21 U.S.C. 1031 et seq.). Defined in both the EPIA and FSIS’s egg products inspection regulations (9 CFR part 590), egg products are liquid, frozen, or dried eggs, with or without added ingredients (9 CFR 590.5). Some examples include Pasteurized Frozen Whole Egg with citric acid; plain Pasteurized Frozen Whole Egg without added ingredients; Pasteurized Liquid Yolk with 10% salt; Pasteurized Frozen Scrambled Egg Mix with Whole Egg and pepper, starch, and dried milk; Frozen Yolks with 10% sugar added; Frozen Egg Whites with whipping aids (such as sodium sulfate or triethyl citrate); Pasteurized Enzyme Modified Dried Egg Product with Egg Yolks and xanthan gum and citric acid to preserve color, and less than 1% silicon dioxide as an anticaking agent and phospholipase; Spray Dried Albumin; and Spray Dried Egg Whites with calcium citrate and salt (or other added ingredients). Foreign egg products must come from countries that have an inspection system found to be equivalent to that of the United States (21 U.S.C. 1046, 9 CFR 590.910(a)). Currently, there are two countries authorized to export egg products to the United States: Canada and the Netherlands. A list of eligible establishments can be found on the FSIS web site.
To determine whether a country maintains an equivalent inspection system, FSIS conducts a thorough document review of that country’s relevant laws, regulations, and other official publications and one or more on-site audits of the country’s relevant inspection system. If FSIS tentatively concludes that the system is equivalent based on that review, FSIS proposes to list the country in the egg products inspection regulations as eligible to export egg products to the United States. FSIS then accepts and evaluates the comments it receives in response to the proposal and determines whether to finalize the determination that the country’s system is equivalent. If FSIS concludes that it is, the Agency publishes a final rule listing the country in the regulations as eligible to export egg products to the U.S. More information regarding equivalency process overview can be found on the FSIS website.
Jurisdiction over imported shell eggs is shared by three federal agencies: the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). APHIS is responsible for ensuring that all imported agricultural products shipped to the United States from abroad, including shell eggs, meet that agency's entry requirements, which are designed to exclude pests and diseases of agriculture. Importers should contact the APHIS Import staff to determine a foreign country’s eligibility to export to the United States at (301) 851-3300 or AskNIES.Products@aphis.usda.gov. Permits may be required for some countries. More information on importing shell eggs into the United States can be found at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/animals/animal_import/downloads/importer_letter_shell_eggs.pdf.
FDA is generally responsible for the safety of shell eggs. Foreign producers must comply with the requirements of FDA’s “Egg Rule,” found in 21 CFR Part 118 – Production, Storage, and Transportation of Shell Eggs. Only the registration and refrigeration portions of the “Rule” apply to shell eggs intended for pasteurization (breaking stock). More information may be found at: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/UCM232271.pdf. For questions, contact the FDA at http://www.access.fda.gov/ or (888) 723-3366.
AMS oversees the importation of shell eggs for breaking and table eggs destined for the ultimate consumer. The agency is responsible for checking imported shell eggs to ensure that they are properly labeled, and that restricted eggs are disposed of properly. AMS notifies FDA when an application is made to import shell eggs into the United States. It notifies FDA before it releases any lots of imported shell eggs into domestic commerce. An application to import shell eggs into the U.S. must be made on AMS Form, LPS-222 and be accompanied by a foreign health certificate. Import details can be found at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3004691. Questions can be addressed to Jeff Shomaker at 202-720-2153 or Jeff.Shomaker@ams.usda.gov.
Specific Q & As
Q: May egg products from the Netherlands (Dutch government) be certified by e-cert?
A: Egg products from the Netherlands may be certified electronically.
Q: If egg products from the Netherlands may be certified by e-cert, can the Salmonella-negative statement be verified in e-cert, or does it need to be on a paper certificate accompanying the shipment?
A: Salmonella-negative statements from the Netherlands may not be verified in e-cert at this time and must be submitted on paper certifications accompanying shipments of egg products. Salmonella-negative statements apply only to tankers and shipping containers (e.g., totes) of greater than 1,000 lbs at this time. For other container types and sizes, FSIS will sample the lot for Salmonella when assigned by the Public Health Information System (PHIS).
Q: According to FSIS Directive 9900.2, Rev. 1, Import Reinspection of Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products, bulk packed liquid eggs are not subject to a product exam. Is that true?
A. Yes. FSIS Directive 9900.2 currently exempts tankers and totes of greater than 1,000 lbs. from product examinations at official import inspection establishments because the import establishments do not have the facilities required to inspect them without possibly subjecting them to contamination. FSIS is reviewing this policy to determine whether there are alternative methods available to inspect the product that provide assurances that the product will not become contaminated.
Q: May the exporting egg products plant fill and seal pails from the same lot certified by the Dutch government and include them with the shipment to be used for the product examination and laboratory sampling?
A: No. The Netherlands has not proposed such a procedure to FSIS. The Dutch government should contact FSIS/OPPD if it wishes to discuss this option.
Q: Will FSIS be testing egg products for residues?
A: No, FSIS is not testing egg products for residues, though the Agency may begin doing so in the near future.
Q: When importing egg products into the United States, which agency is to receive the original health certificate?
A: FSIS requires the original certificate to be presented at the official import inspection establishment. Customs and Border Protection Agricultural Inspectors, who represent the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, require only a copy of the certificate, because they understand that FSIS requires the original. (This applies to products whether they are presented at an official import inspection establishment or an official egg products plant.)
Q: Are shipping containers1 of imported egg products opened during inspection?
A: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agricultural Inspectors may require that shipping conveyances be open, or they may open the conveyances, for inspection at the port-of-entry or a designated CBP inspection site. When the shipment arrives at an FSIS inspection facility, FSIS requires that the lots be staged for reinspection. The shipping container will have to be removed from the shipping conveyance, at a minimum, for Certification and Label Verification types of inspections (TOIs). Shipping conveyances of egg products imported from Canada do not have to be unloaded if no other TOI is assigned.
Q: Are totes of imported egg products opened?
A: Each official import inspection establishment has an inspection room that meets FSIS inspection facility and equipment requirements, and is capable of being cleaned and sanitized as any other FSIS official establishment or egg products plant. At this time, FSIS policy exempts shipping containers (i.e., totes) greater than 1,000 lbs from being opened for sampling. However, FSIS is actively looking at a means to increase confidence that this product is free of detectable levels of pathogens of public health concern and intends to announce changes to this policy to better protect public health.
Q: Does FSIS need the temperature history of containers of imported egg products during transit?
A: FSIS does not require the temperature history of containers or the current temperature of containers as part of its inspection procedures at an official import inspection establishment.
Q: What does a product examination consist of?
A: When FSIS personnel perform a product examination, they select random samples based on Table SP5 in FSIS Directive 9900.2.
- For liquid egg product in a large shipping container, a ladle is used to dip down into the product to retrieve a sample for reinspection. The product is then placed into a tray or pan for organoleptic reinspection by FSIS.
- For liquid egg product in smaller shipping or immediate containers, a ladle may be used to remove product for reinspection, or the entire container may be emptied into a tray or pan for organoleptic reinspection, depending on how it is packaged.
- For frozen egg product, a drill and drill bit are used to drill down into the center of the container and spun at high speed to heat up the drill hole, which is then organoleptically reinspected by FSIS.
- For dried egg products, samples are selected and removed to a tray, pan, or table for organoleptic reinspection.
Q: Are there any special facility or equipment requirements for an official import inspection establishment to be approved to inspect egg products?
A: Yes, depending on what type of product will be presented for reinspection, as follows:
- Frozen egg products:
- A high speed, heavy duty drill with a rated capacity of not less than 1,000 RPM under load or not less than 1,800 RPM without a load. Battery operated drills are acceptable if adequately powered. The drill is to be free of adhering dirt, egg, or other extraneous matter before use;
- The drill bit is 11/16 inches or larger in diameter with not less than a 12-inch drilling section or shank (thin-twist type). The drill bit is able to be sufficiently cleaned and sanitized for product examinations and for taking microbiological samples. A stainless steel bit is recommended; and
- The doors of the FSIS inspection room must be able to accommodate a shipping container of the size presented for reinspection, so that the sample units are able to be moved into the inspection room for product examination and laboratory sampling, unless the shipping container contains immediate containers that may be moved into the inspection room.
- Liquid egg products:
- A ladle and either pans or trays musts be available for the product examination and laboratory sampling; and
- Dried egg products:
- The facility must have equipment to remove the samples and to place the samples into or on that are able to be easily cleaned and sanitized.
- Frozen egg products:
1 For FSIS purposes, a shipping container is the tanker, tote, box, or carton that contains the product. The shipping conveyance is the vehicle that contains the shipping containers. A tanker is both.
Importing Shell Eggs for Breaking
Please visit the Agricultural Marketing Service Website for information about importing shell eggs for breaking into the United States.
The Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act and the FSIS implementing regulations provide FSIS with the authority to ensure that meat, poultry, or egg products are safe, wholesome, and not adulterated. These authorities also allow FSIS to exempt from inspection certain foods that contain small amounts of meat, poultry or egg products as an ingredient, provided that the meat, poultry, or egg product component of these products is from an approved or eligible source.
For meat and poultry, the FSIS policy is:
In the case of meat, the “relatively small proportions” of meat ingredients are:
- 3% or less raw meat;
- Less than 2% cooked meat or other portions of the carcass; or
- 30% or less fat, tallow or meat extract, alone or in combination.
In the case of poultry, the “relatively small proportions” are:
- Less than 2% cooked poultry meat;
- Less than 10% cooked poultry skins, giblets, or fat, separately; or
- Less than 10% cooked poultry skins, giblets, fat, and poultry meat (limited to less than 2%) in any combination.
The meat or poultry ingredients used in FSIS-exempted products must be from an eligible source. To be from an eligible source, the product must be prepared under USDA/FSIS inspection or in a foreign establishment certified by a foreign inspection system determined equivalent by FSIS.
For egg products, FSIS recognizes four approved sources. The egg product ingredient must be:
- prepared under USDA/FSIS inspection;
- prepared for export to the United States in a foreign establishment certified by a foreign inspection system that has been determined equivalent by FSIS;
- derived from shell eggs that were broken, pasteurized, and properly stored prior to being incorporated into the food product; or
- derived directly from shell eggs broken and immediately incorporated into the resulting food product.
Egg ingredients from broken shell eggs, as noted in item (4) above, that are not immediately incorporated into the resulting food product, must meet the requirements of item (3) above.
Importers of products containing small amounts of meat, poultry, or egg products used as an ingredient and originating from countries with animal health restrictions that are exempt from FSIS reinspection must apply for and obtain a VS-permit from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).