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Guidance Regarding In-container Freezing of Product Destined for Japan

As USMEF has reported over the past several weeks, severe congestion in the West Coast ports has resulted in significant shipping delays for U.S. exporters. Meat exporters are especially concerned about the shelf life of chilled pork and beef destined for Asian markets – especially Japan, which receives the largest percentage of chilled waterborne U.S. exports. In some cases, exporters would prefer to freeze the product in the container so that any further delay in exiting the port will not cause it to expire before reaching its destination or create a time crunch for the importer once the product arrives.

When such product is destined for Japan, USMEF has received confirmation from FSIS that a replacement (in-lieu-of) certificate is not required as long as the following conditions are met:

  • The product arrives in the original refrigerated container
  • Freezing was accomplished by reducing the temperature in the container
  • The container has not been opened and the original seal is intact
  • The importer can explain to port quarantine officials why the product was frozen while in the container

For purposes of consistency, FSIS prefers that a replacement certificate not be issued when the above conditions are met. Assuming the product shows no signs of being in an unsafe or unsanitary condition upon arrival, we understand from FAS-Tokyo that it should satisfy all of Japan’s quarantine inspection requirements.

This is a positive development, especially given the continued level of gridlock in major West Coast ports. But exporters should keep in mind that this applies only to product destined for Japan, and take steps to ensure that all requirements are satisfied. Please email Travis Arp or call 303-623-6328 with any questions.