The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) confirmed it has decided to postpone an on-site audit in Vietnam.
SeafoodSource previously reported the postponement on Monday, 9 March.
“For the safety of our auditors, FSIS does not provide the dates when the auditors are scheduled to conduct in-country equivalence audits in a foreign country; however, we have postponed our visit,” an FSIS spokesperson said in an emailed statement sent to SeafoodSource.
FSIS did not provide the reason behind the postponement decision.
The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) had said in a statement on 11 March that the FSIS inspection was put on hold possibly because of the agency's concern about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, which is spreading rapidly in the world.
The trip was scheduled to take place from 2 to 13 March and was aimed at ensuring the country’s inspection system for siluriformes fish, mainly pangasius, continues to meet the U.S. import requirements.
FSIS had already informed the National Agro-Forestry-Fisheries Quality Assurance Department (NAFIQAD) under Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development about the postponement, but did not provide any reason or new date for an upcoming visit.
In November 2019, FSIS announced that Vietnam, Thailand, and China were eligible to export siluriformes fish, including pangasius and basa, to the U.S.
This would have been the second on-site audit by FSIS following the first conducted in May 2018.
During that inspection, eight out of 13 exporters shipping the fish to the U.S. at the time were reviewed and two farms were audited, according to a proposed rule by FSIS posted on the Federal Register in September 2018.
Following the downturn in most of 2019, U.S. became the largest destination for pangasius from Vietnam, with sales of USD 18.1 million (EUR 16 million) in January, VASEP said.