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Frequently Asked Questions

Product Evaluation

I sent an herbal product to a lab, and the results show a prohibited ingredient that we didn't add to the product. Is it possible that the ingredient occurs naturally? If so, how do I prove it to the satisfaction of customs officials?
FECS maintains a listing of known naturally occurring sources of prohibited ingredients and can furnish a letter documenting the occurrence to the importing country. In some cases, testing of raw materials may be required if the occurrence is not already documented.
If the probability of having a shipment intercepted and tested at customs is very small, why should I spend the money to have my product evaluated and tested?
If a product is tested and turned back at customs, the exporting company may be blacklisted or targeted for future testing. Compared to the cost of a lost shipment and the loss of future revenue, the cost of product evaluation and testing is quite reasonable.
My product was rejected at the port because of a prohibited preservative, but we do not add any to the product. How can we prove that our formulation is in compliance with the regulations?
We can evaluate your formulation and production process and determine if a particular ingredient is a direct additive or indirect additive coming from one of the legal ingredients in your products. We can determine the legal limits if the additive is an indirect additive. Alternatively we can also provide you with approved substitutes for the problem ingredient.

Product Certification

I sent a product to a lab for testing and it took 5 days. I sent another product to the same lab and it took 3 weeks. Why did it take so much longer the second time?
The combination of the type of test and the sample substrate may vary from sample to sample. Substrates containing fats, oils or herbal concentrates may require additional steps to achieve reliable test results.
Is it mandatory to have laboratory testing of the product? How do I know whether a particular certificate is mandatory or optional?
In general, inspection certificates are mandatory while Quality Assurance certificates are optional. Depending on the type of product and the foreign country regulations, we can assist you with obtaining appropriate certificates required for your product to sail through customs smoothly. A product with no prohibited additives and proper certificate documentation will have minimum delays in customs, thereby gaining time on the store shelves.

International Food Laws & Regulations

The Japanese government incorrectly classified my product, and now I have to reformulate or I won't be able to export to Japan. Can you help me?
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to persuade foreign governments to change product classifications. FECS has experience with the reformulation of existing products to comply with foreign laws with the specific goal of minimizing hardship to the client.
Can I have a single formulation for my product that fits multiple countries' requirements?
FECS maintains databases of international food regulations and can help you identify ingredients which would be acceptable in multiple target countries thereby enabling a single formulation for your product.

Laboratory Accreditation

What type of laboratories should seek foreign government approval?
Generally, the laboratory accreditation process is designed for large commercial laboratories that do large-scale food product testing for several different exporting companies.
What are the advantages of foreign government recognition of my laboratory?
Once the laboratory obtains official recognition from a foreign government, the laboratory is approved for pre-testing and certifying the export bound food and agricultural products thereby reducing the chance of product rejection by customs at foreign ports. Pre-certification of a product by an approved laboratory serves as an inexpensive insurance policy for the exporter.

Food Export Consulting Services
3335 NW Spencer St.
Portland, OR 97229
Phone/Fax: 503.384.0469
Email: aengquist@fecs.us

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