| Comment Record|
Mr. Denny Morrow ||
2002-08-29 14:20:33 |
Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association |
Food Industry |
| Comments for FDA General |
1. General Comments
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing on behalf of the 60 member companies in the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association. Our member companies process and pack a wide variety of seafood products for Canadian domestic consumption and for export. The value of our exports during 2001 was in excess of $400 million. At least 70% of those exports went to the United States. Some of our member companies also import U.S. seafood products for distribution in Canada.
We have a motto in the seafood business - Keep it clean, keep it cold, and keep it moving. During the month of December, we estimate that a daily average of a quarter million pounds of live lobster is trucked through the Calais, Maine border station. At other times of the year, fresh ground fish, tuna, swordfish, scallops and clams are among the perishable seafood items being shipped to buyers and distributors in the United States. The success of this trade is based on the seafood industry's ability to put products in retail stores and restaurants in the freshest possible condition.
Our member companies support the efforts of the U.S. government in taking measures to prevent acts of bio-terrorism (the intentional adulteration of food) against the American people. We understand the intent of the Registration Section of the new Bio-terrorism Act is to provide the USFDA with information about foreign and domestic suppliers of food products.
The Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association suggests that USFDA should use its communication links and relationship with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to establish a list of Canadian registered seafood processing facilities that are eligible to export to the USA. CFIA and USFDA currently have a MOU that recognizes each other's plant registration list on the basis of food safety. CFIA inspects each of these Canadian facilities on at least a yearly basis. The CFIA/Industry required Quality Management Program also has a record keeping requirement that will satisfy Section 306 of the Act if Canadian cooperation is needed in reviewing a company's records.
Some Nova Scotia live lobster export companies do not ship from a CFIA registered establishment. Companies that currently export live lobster to the European Union, however, are on a separate CFIA (inspection) registered facility list. The NSFPA has suggested to CFIA that it could expand the EU Lobster Export Facility Registration Program to include companies that ship to the USA.
Our members believe that if the USFDA uses the link with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to receive the required facility registration information required under the Act that USFDA will have a reliable, efficient system in place to handle the registration of Canadian seafood shippers. Because the CFIA registered plant list requires at least an annual inspection of the facility and each company's records, it would seem that USFDA would have the added advantage of knowing that the companies on the registered list exist, are reputable and recognized for export by the Canadian government.
Section 305 states For a foreign facility, the registration must include the name of the U.S. agent for the facility. This section would seem to require Canadian companies to hire a U.S. agent, or to ask their U.S. customers (there may be many in the case of some companies) to act as agents. This will add another cost to many Canadian seafood exporters. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, it is our understanding that governments are not to implement regulations that apply costs only to importers and not to the domestic industry as well. This section would seem to put Canadian seafood shippers at a competitive cost disadvantage versus U.S. seafood suppliers.
Canadian CFIA registered seafood facilities and exporters must meet stringent CFIA requirements regarding recall of product. Canadian exporters must label packages, boxes and containers so that the U.S. buyer, or USFDA staff, can easily contact the Canadian supplier for quick recall purposes. It would seem that USFDA discussions with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency concerning recall regulations could provide the basis for a registration system that provides USFDA with the assurance that it needs, and that would satisfy the fair play intent of NAFTA.
NSFPA members appreciate the invitation from USFDA to provide comments on the new Act. We hope that the above comments prove helpful.
Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association
38-B John Street
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia