Food safety: EU and US resume trade of bivalve molluscs

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


As from the end of this month, trade of molluscan shellfish – such as mussels, clams, oysters and scallops – will resume between the EU and the US. Two EU Member States (Spain and the Netherlands) will be allowed to export molluscan shellfish to the US, whilst two American states (Massachusetts and Washington) can do the same to the EU. The Commission has adopted today the legislation to that effect.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, said: “I warmly welcome this deal, which resolves a long-standing issue we have been working hard to unlock. It shows that our efforts to forge a positive, forward-looking trade agenda with the United States are paying off. Since the EU-US summit in June 2021, we have made several breakthroughs: grounding the Airbus-Boeing dispute, launching the Trade and Technology Council and pausing our steel and aluminium trade dispute. All these achievements, plus this latest resumption of trade in bivalve molluscs, help to create sustainable economic growth and jobs for our workers”.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said:We are delighted that trustful transatlantic EU-US cooperation is reopening an important trade pathway between the EU and the US on bivalve molluscs. This is good news for food operators and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic. Commerce shall resume shortly, and I look forward to the extension of this opportunity to more EU Member States in the near future”. 

The Commission and the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have been discussing the recognition of each other’s production systems to allow bilateral trade of these products. Due to differences in regulatory standards, trade in live molluscan shellfish had not been possible between the EU and the US since 2011.

In 2015, both sides carried out on-the-spot audits and, following years of discussions, the Commission and the FDA recommended that the food safety systems for the production of raw bivalve molluscs in the two US states (Massachusetts and Washington) and the two EU Member States can be considered equivalent. 

The EU therefore added the two US States to the list of third countries from which bivalve molluscs can be imported into the EU.

The FDA, on its part, published a Notice in the US Federal Register informing the public and stakeholders about the forthcoming opening of the American market to the import of EU bivalve molluscs from Spain and the Netherlands. 

Another significant feature is that other EU Member States could also be allowed to export these products to the US following a simplified authorisation procedure agreed between EU and US.

This is the first time that FDA has issued an equivalence determination providing EU producers access to the US market.

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