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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Importing Shell Eggs and Egg Products into the United States

General Information

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 at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/importing-products/eligible-countries-products-foreign-establishments/eligible-foreign-establishments.  

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 at:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/importing-products/equivalence/equivalence-process-overview.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

    1. Frozen egg products:
      1. 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;
      2. 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
      3. 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.

    1. Liquid egg products:
      1. A ladle and either pans or trays musts be available for the product examination and laboratory sampling; and
      2. 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.

    1. Dried egg products:
      1. 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.
      2. 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.

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.

 

Last Modified Jul 09, 2015