How to Import Food Products to the US
Food products can be one of the more stable revenue generating areas for any importer, since food is one of the basic necessities of life. Importing food products to the US is much more involved than merely packing, shipping, and delivering your customer. Food imports to the US must meet safety, labelling, and packaging requirements before your food imports may be marketed legally to consumers. After you have prepared the food products to meet or exceed the various safety and health regulations, you must ensure that your customs paperwork is complete and that your logistics chain is primed for the import process.
The first step in importing your food product to the US is to review the relevant Food and Drug Administration rules and regulations pertaining to your specific food product. These can range from merely providing shipment prior notice and certifying the origin of the product to being as comprehensive as requiring several related agency approvals and inspections (like the Department of Agriculture or Fish and Wildlife Service). It is highly recommended that you retain the services of an experienced trade attorney and customs broker. Reidel Law Firm has both experienced trade law attorneys and a licensed customs brokerage to help our clients navigate the myriad of federal rules and regulations for food imports.
Your import attorney or customs broker will help you register your food processing facilities which is one of the first steps in clearing the paperwork required for all food imports. Once you have your facility registered you will have an FDA number for the manufacturer and importer which will be necessary to clear customs. The next step your attorney or broker will take is to review the food manufacturing process and the FDA’s regulations and guidelines pertaining to the type of food product being imported. These regulations can be tricky to understand and implement and depend on what the food product actually is. Sometimes there are requirements for low acid foods, for raw food products, and even the type of food packaging involved.
After you have the facilities registered, your food processes in line with US health and safety requirements you will need to prepare the package labelling to meet the FDA label rules. These are fairly straightforward and the FDA provides a handy guide to better understand the labelling. If your food product will be sent to several international markets such as the US and the EU, know that your label will need to meet all regulations of each market. This will often complicate the process as you will need to redesign the packaging to meet all the rules well before you begin shipping to the US.
The last major piece of the puzzle will be filing the Prior Notice to the FDA of your food import. You will need to have all other steps before you file and ship. Without the Prior Notice filing, customs will not release your food products which could result in a total loss of your shipments. While the steps may seem manageable, it is a large undertaking for any small or medium sized business.
For more information and help on importing your food product to the US, call Reidel Law Firm today at +1(832)510-3292 or use the email button below.