In nearly all Colombian ports, specifically Buenaventura, the United States Meat Export Federation has faced issues with rejected and detained containers due to foreign debris that has been found within shipping containers and dirty or damaged boxes. Since September 2016, there have been at least 36 rejections and detentions, something that is not seen in other markets. Even though this does not pose a food safety issue, it has been a reason for Colombian inspectors to deny exports entry to the country and assess another fee for them to be released.
While USMEF is working with USDA to resolve this issue, exporters are advised to follow the guidance document (released April 3, 2019) and adhere to best practices so that their containers can enter the country without delays.
Some of the key points within the document discuss thoroughly cleaning containers, especially places that could hold residue and foreign materials during transit, as well as ensuring all the boxes are clean of blood and free from damage before being exported. Additionally, exporters should work with their importers to be enrolled in certification programs such as the Colombian Authorized Logistic Operator (OEA) or the U.S. Custom Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) Program. Certification allows both importers and exporters to go through less physical inspection and decrease their chances of having rejected products.
Lastly, labelling requirements are spelled out. One of the most important points is that labels must be able to endure transit and not peel off due to environmental changes. It is advised that commercial labels should be translated to Spanish and placed on packaging before being exported. There are numerous ways that exporters can have the labels applied in Colombia but doing it before shipments leave the U.S. minimizes the time product spends in its destination country to be processed.
GCCA is continuing to work with USMEF on any further developments in exporting guidelines and best practices for the Colombian market. Any new changes will be relayed to members.
To view the complete guidance document, click here.