US authorities move to halt 'port shopping'

The FDA hopes to prevent access for products refused entry

Regulators in America have proposed measures to stop the practice of 'port shopping,' whereby unscrupulous importers move food products between ports in a bid to beat border controls.

When the Food & Drug Administration refuses to admit a food into the US, it must be exported or destroyed. But some importers attempt to bring the refused food back into the country in the same condition by shipping it to another port in the hope that the food will be admitted there.

Now the FDA has suggested that appropriate labelling of containers of products barred from entry would make it easier to detect previously refused food.

Under the proposed rule, all owners or consignees of refused food would be required to affix a label to the shipping container that reads "United States: Refused Entry" in clear, conspicuous print.

A label would also have to be affixed to all documents accompanying the imported food, such as invoices, bills of lading and electronic documents.

"This system will make it more difficult for food importers to evade import controls after being denied admission into the United States," said Randall Lutter, deputy commissioner for policy. "It will complement our ongoing efforts to monitor food imports."

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