By Cary Greene
If you’re exporting wine, or thinking about it, you should be aware of an emerging trend relating to foreign registrations and inspections. The implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has been hot topic recently, particularly with respect to the new registration requirements contained in that law.
But FSMA also gave the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) greater power to inspect foreign and domestic facilities. While wineries are largely shielded from these new powers due to a first of its kind exemption that limits FDA’s authority over wine regulation, FSMA’s inspection provisions seems to be starting a problematic trend—in the form of retaliatory foreign registrations and inspections.
China, Canada, Russia, Vietnam and Indonesia, are in the process of implementing legislation that directly responds to FSMA. In apparent protest of FDA’s new powers, these countries are giving their local agencies registration and inspection authority over U.S. producers.
While we’ve have heard no reports of actual inspections, we’ve expressed our concern with the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB). Foreign inspections would pose a host of practical and business problems for American wineries. It should be up to TTB to determine whether a producer is complying with U.S. production laws, and we will work with the agency to ensure there is a clear plan to deal with this potentially significant problem.