Annex L: Use of Official Seals

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1. Introduction

The use of an official seal on transport containers is to ensure that the integrity of the meat product has not been compromised while in transit. The official seal is required on import shipments of meat products from all countries except the United States, shipments of unmarked meat products from the United States and imported meat product shipments that have been in transit through the United States. The use of the official seal is detailed in the following sections of this annex.

1.1 Legal Basis - Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990

Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990

Section 115 A meat product may be shipped from a registered establishment without having a label marked on it in accordance with this part where:

  • (a) it is shipped from the registered establishment in a bulk container or transport container that was sealed with an official seal under the authority of an inspector to another establishment that is registered for an activity set out in paragraph 27(1)(b) or (e);
  • (c) the official seal is broken only with the consent of an inspector.

Section 130 (1) No person shall remove or alter an official seal or official tag applied by or under the authority of an inspector unless authorized to do so by an inspector.

2. Shipments of Imported Meat Products From All Countries Other Than the United States

For meat and meat products originating from all countries other than the United States, containers, trucks or lockers used to transport imported meat products must be secured with an official seal issued by the competent authority responsible for the Meat Inspection system, in order to demonstrate that the integrity of the meat product has been controlled during the transport. Furthermore, depending on the prevalent animal diseases in the country of origin, the CFIA's Terrestrial Animal Health Division (TAHD) may obligate the transport container to be sealed with an official seal of the competent Animal Health authorities of the country of origin. This import condition must be detailed in the Animal Health Import Permit issued for a specific meat product. The official seal number, recorded on the Official Meat Inspection Certificate (OMIC) by the competent authority will satisfy both the TAHD and the Meat Inspection requirement.

Fully marked, tamper evident meat products from countries free of serious Animal Health diseases may be shipped by air transport directly from the originating country without use of officials seals. The shipping marks will identify the shipment to the OMIC.

2.1 Use and Removal of a CFIA Official Seal

The use and/or the removal of a CFIA official seal or the official seal of the competent authority of the country of origin are to be controlled by the CFIA.

Imported meat shipments that have to be opened at a port of landing, either by a CFIA inspector or by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer must be resealed with another official seal. An official note detailing the number of the original seal removed by the official at the border, as well as the number of the replacement official seal, will be essential as proof that the meat product was maintained under continuous official control.

Due to external factors (for example: transport strikes, breakdown in transport equipment), the imported meat product may need to be de-stuffed from the original transport container and trans-loaded into either a transport van or another transport container to the import inspection location. The following conditions must be met to issue a replacement seal (or an additional seal applied):

  1. Removal of the initial seal, unloading, loading, and resealing the transport container must be done under the supervision of CFIA inspector at a CFIA establishment registered for that activity.
  2. The CFIA inspector must issue an official note on either the Import Inspection Report (IIR) or CFIA letterhead with the following information: the certificate number, the initial seal number, the replacement seal number and the reason why a replacement seal was needed.
  3. It is not necessary to have the inspection performed at the trans-loading site. Any labeling abnormalities observed during the trans-loading may be corrected at the inspection facility identified by the importer at the time of entry processing at the Import Service Centre. In such situations, the inspector at the trans-loading establishment should ensure that the inspector at the final inspection site is aware of the abnormalities prior to permitting the movement. Refer to Annex J, Procedures for Handling of Non-Complying Shipments.

In summary, the use of foreign meat inspection services' official seal is required to meet import conditions established by both the TAHD and the Meat Programs (MPD) divisions, and it must be identified on the OMIC. Numbers on the seals removed from the transport containers at the import inspection establishment must match the numbers indicated on the certificate or other official document such as Transport and Entry form number 7512 (see section 4 of this annex). In every case where the numbers do not match, explanation should be required from the importer. In cases where there is possibility that the official control over the contents of the transport container may have been compromised, advice should be sought from the Area Meat Import Program Specialist and/or the Area Import Operations Coordinator.

3. Shipments of Unmarked or Unstamped Meat Products

All shipments of meat products imported into Canada from countries other than the United States require official seals. For meat products from the United States official seals are required on unmarked shipments. Unstamped shipments from the United States may be sealed with an official seal or a company seal. Refer to Annex I-2 of this chapter.

The inspector must verify that the seal on the truck or container is from the foreign meat inspection service and the seal number which has been recorded on the meat inspection certificate corresponds to the one on the transport container.

4. Shipments Which Have Been Trans-loaded, Containerized or In Transit in the United States

Shipments from offshore countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Uruguay may be shipped through United States ports. These shipments may be trans-loaded or containerized in the United States or moved intact in original containers. For trans-loaded or containerized shipments, a United States Customs seal is applied to the transport container and the seal numbers are recorded on the Transport and Entry Form number 7512 of the United States Customs or the bill of lading endorsed by a United States Customs stamp.

A majority of meat shipments transiting through the United States arriving at Canadian registered import inspection establishments may be classified in one of three categories:

  1. Shipment transiting in their container of origin. Shipments are containerized and sealed (official seal of competent authority) in the country of origin. The container and seal number are entered on the OMIC. The same containers are then shipped through the United States to Canada, by rail or road. These containers must arrive in the Canadian meat import inspection establishment in the same transport container and be sealed with the official seal indicated on the OMIC.
  2. Shipment trans-loaded in the United States. Shipments are containerized and sealed in the country of origin. The container and seal number are entered on the OMIC. In United States ports, the shipments are trans-loaded to another transport container for transport to Canada.
  3. Shipment containerized in the United States. Shipments are not containerized in the country of origin; instead they are loaded directly into the ship's hold. In United States ports they are containerized for transport to Canada and sealed by United States Customs. Lack of container and official seal numbers on the OMICs from Australia and New Zealand should be interpreted as an indication that the shipment was not containerized in the country of origin and was shipped in bulk, in ship's hold, as far as the United States.

Where a shipment has been trans-loaded in the United States (point 2), the inspector must verify that the United States Customs seal number on the vehicle (railway car, trailer, etc.) and on the certificate corresponds to those recorded on the Transport and Entry Form no. 7512 of the United States Customs, or on the record of delivery/bill of lading. If the record of delivery/bill of lading is used, then it must be endorsed by a United States Customs stamp, applied at the point of exit from the United States to Canada. This endorsement signifies that the paperless Transport and Entry Form no. 7512, generated at the port in the United States where the shipment was trans-loaded, bears the same information (numbers) concerning the original official seals removed in the United States and the United States Customs red ball seals that were placed on the container into which the products were stuffed, under United States Customs' officer supervision.

In those instances where products have entered the United States in bulk and are containerized in the United States (point 3), the Transport and Entry form no. 7512 will identify that it is the original shipment as certified by using shipping marks as opposed to an original seal number. The same criteria for United States Custom seal verification detailed in the previous paragraph apply to this category of shipment.

In both cases, if the seals are broken at the border, the inspector must re-seal the transport container and the seal number must be entered on the IIR before the shipment is allowed to go forward to a registered establishment. The inspectors in registered establishments, performing import inspections must verify that all the necessary documents, duly endorsed and bearing the required information are present. The inspectors should verify the presence and numbers of the United States Customs red ball seals, against the numbers specified on the Transport and Entry Form no. 7512 of the United States Customs, or on the record of delivery/bill of lading.

For import inspection facility establishments who have developed and maintain applicable written verification receiving procedures according to Food Safety Enhancement Program (FSEP) principals, these must be approved by the Inspector and audited by the Inspector on a pre-determined frequency. The procedures should identify a designated plant employee who has been authorized by the inspector to verify records and remove official seals from transport containers. It is further recognized that the Inspector is to be notified of any discrepancy between the transport container seal number on the official documents (OMIC, Transport and Export Form no. 7512 of the United States Customs endorsed Bill of lading) and the one observed on the transport container prior to the removal of the replacement seal.

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