Bioterrorism act kicks in, tracks food

Published on Thu, Dec 18, 2003
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Bioterrorism act kicks in, tracks food

The war on terror has just hit your belly � the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 kicked in as of December 12.

The act will provide a paper trail of food imports entering the U.S. and will hopefully allow spotting attempts at food terrorism. Under the act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must be notified of incoming food imports two to eight hours ahead of their arrival. Furthermore, the manufacturer of the food must be previously registered with the FDA.

The Bioterrorism Act does not apply to individuals bringing in food for personal use.

The act�s provisions is being phased in to allow for educating importers and manufacturers. Depending on the type of infraction (late or no notification), border personnel will be in communication/education mode until May 12. Fines and refusal to import could be applied, again depending on the nature of the offense, from May 12 to August 12, 2004 when the act will be fully in effect.

According to the FDA, �food mailed, brought or accompanied to the U.S. by individuals for non-personal use, FDA and CBP generally will continue their education efforts and will not refuse its admission before August 12, 2004 because of inadequate or lacking prior notice.�

FDA Supervisory Consumer Safety Officer George Long of Blaine says he �expects things are going to go pretty smoothly� due to extensive preparation by local FDA and border customs officials.