The new Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, drafted to address food safety concerns after the September 11 attacks, passed into law in the US in June 2002.
It requires all owners, operators or agents (factories, warehouses, manufacturers, exporters, importers, shippers, packers, distributors, receivers, forwarders) involved in the shipment of food-related products to the US to register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or establish and maintain records by 12 December.
The law will have serious business implications for all exporting companies in the food industry as failure to register will result in imported products being refused entry or impounded.
But many firms outside the US are unaware of the pending deadline. A recent check found that only 37, 000 out of an estimated 400,000 facilities - both domestic and foreign - had registered.
Jim Prochnow, partner of Greenberg Traurig, running the seminar at the show tomorrow, said: "I believe, based on a recent round-the-world trip and extensive correspondence with colleagues on all continents, that a huge number of foreign companies are completely unaware of the new mandatory requirements of this legislation, and will only find out about them when their goods are held up at the US border on or after 13 December."
In addition to registering with the FDA and providing records, companies involved in the export of food-related products (traditional foods as well as herbs, vitamins, amino acids, extracts, colors, flavours, marine products, and a host of additional products) must provide prior notice to the FDA of shipments including, among other required information, country of origin, description of articles, and anticipated port of entry into the US.
Prochnow estimates that 100,000 facilities worldwide will be affected by the facilities registration provision and that 20,000 shipments into the United States per day will be subject to the new inspection requirements.
In its second year, Natural Products Asia is expected to feature 200 booths from 26 countries and 5,000 buyers. The exhibition is divided by marketplace, including nutritional supplements/vitamins, natural personal care products, herbals/Traditional Chinese Medicine/alternate therapies, natural and organic foods and products, and raw materials, ingredients, and supply-related services and technologies.
The event runs until 5 December at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.