Breaking a decade long impasse that has banned the shipment of certain shellfish between the U.S. and the European Union (EU), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a proposal that would establish equivalence regarding the sanitation levels of molluscan shellfish exported to the U.S. from the EU.
Published in early March in the U.S. Federal Register, the FDA’s proposal would acknowledge that, as administered by the European Commission, the EU’s food safety control system for raw bivalve molluscan shellfish intended for export to the U.S. “provides at least the same level of sanitary protection as the United States’ system and is therefore equivalent.” If approved, the “equivalence determination” by the FDA would also pave the way for comparable measures by the EU Commission that would potentially open the EU market to molluscan shellfish exports from the U.S.
Molluscan shellfish typically includes clams, mussels, oysters and scallops.
According to the FDA, U.S. molluscan shellfish has not been allowed to enter the EU since 2010, while live, fresh or frozen molluscan shellfish from the EU has not been permitted to be imported into the U.S. since the 1980s. The FDA’s action follows a multi-year, in-depth review of shellfish safety systems in the U.S. and the EU, and is expected to result in consumers in both markets having access to a broader array of shellfish options.
The complete text of the FDA’s proposal regarding the equivalence determination of shellfish as published in the Federal Register is available here.