It appears that jurisdictional issues regarding dry “chicken” soup mixes and like products cause much confusion not only among importers, but also within government circles. The “clarification” that went out is the second attempt to figure out who is responsible for what. About two years ago, Veterinary Services (VS) published 2% rule “clarification” that talked about this very issue, which has now been removed.
It seems that following is the most substantive statement of the clarification:
“Beginning on June 22, 2009, importers of food products that contain small amounts of meat or poultry will not be granted an import permit by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) unless a determination is first made by FSIS that the meat, poultry, or egg product ingredient was prepared under specific conditions that will ensure that these ingredients are not adulterated. Once the determination has been made, food products that contain only a small amount of a meat, poultry, or egg product ingredient are no longer subject to the jurisdiction of FSIS and are then subject to the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration.”
CBP echoes above clarification: “USDA import permit will now be required for FSIS-exempted food products containing small amounts of meat and/or poultry ingredients from countries considered by USDA to be affected with animal diseases of concern. Products from these countries, such as bouillon cubes, extracts, and soup mixes, which have previously gained entry solely under a health certificate indicating product being concentrated by boiling, will now also require a USDA import permit. CBP enforcement of this APHIS policy change is scheduled to start on June 22, 2009.”
One may figure, and probably be correct that obtaining an import permit would make importer’s life much easier notwithstanding the fact that supplier countries are NOT “affected with animal diseases of concern.” This is simply because some officials may understand enforcement out of the context, e.g. “USDA import permit will now be required for FSIS-exempted food products containing small amounts of meat and/or poultry ingredients from countries (period),” and it may take time to explain and persuade CBP to release the product (which may costs much more than hurdles of getting the product released from USDA Hold / Exam).
Getting the Import Permit, is the art in itself. It is possible, but difficult, to persuade VS to grant you a permit, not based on specific supplier, but based on specific country. VS would hesitate to do that, but if a supplier succeeds, than it may save time and money when conducting actual border clearance (again, depending on the port) for products that come from a vendor that often changes suppliers (a common, free-market like phenomena).
In general, however, same procedures that have been in place will remain there. It is the enforcement aspect of it that is probably affected.