INSPECTION REQUIRED: "Dates in retail packages" meaning whole or pitted dates, other than dates prepared or preserved, wrapped or packaged for sale at retail. "Dates for packaging" meaning whole or pitted dates in bulk containers which are to be repacked, in whole or part, in the United States as dates in retail packages. Dates imported into the United States must meet the following minimum grade and/or maturity requirements prior to importation (release from custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in accordance with § 944.31 (CFR Part 944). This date import regulation is issued under Section 8e (7 U.S.C. 608e-1) of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674).
GRADE REQUIREMENTS: Dates for packaging and dates in retail packages must meet modified U.S. Grade B.
DISPOSITION OF DATES FAILING TO MEET INSPECTION REQUIREMENTS: Dates failing to meet the above import requirements may be: (1) reconditioned and reinspected with the failed portion disposed of under Federal supervision; for example, failed portions that are dumped should be witnessed by a USDA inspector; (2) diverted to an exempt outlet using the FV-6 form (see various approved outlets and procedures listed below); (3) exported; or (4) disposed of under Federal supervision.
CONDITIONS FOR THE IMPORTATION OF DATES EXEMPT FROM THE IMPORT REQUIREMENTS: "Dates for processing" meaning dates for use in a bakery, confectionary, or other product and includes dates coated with a substance materially altering their color and, "Dates prepared or preserved" meaning dates processed into a confection or other product, dates coated with a substance materially altering their color, or dates prepared for incorporation into a product by chopping, slicing, or other processing which materially alters their form are not subject to grade, inspection and certification requirements. Form filing requirements, however, must be met by the importer.
To import dates for processing or dates prepared or preserved, an importer must file an Importer's Exempt Commodity Form (FV-6) pursuant to § 999.1(d)(2) and safeguard procedures at § 999.500. The FV-6 form is also used for dates donated to needy persons, prisoners, and Native Americans on reservations. Contact the Marketing Order and Agreement Division’s (MOAD) Compliance and Enforcement Branch at (202) 720-2491 for more information on filing the FV-6 exemption certificates within two days after the commodity enters the United States.
Any lot of dates not exceeding 70 pounds, net weight, and any lot of dates so denatured as to render them unfit for human consumption may be imported exempt from grade and form filing requirements.
RECLASSIFICATION OF DATES: Dates initially offered as "dates for processing" meeting U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wholesomeness and cleanliness requirements, may subsequently be re-offered as "dates for packaging", upon USDA reinspection to meet grade requirements.
Dates initially offered as “dates for packaging” or “dates for retail packages”, but failing both grade and FDA requirements cannot be imported. Dates failing grade and meeting FDA requirements may be imported as “dates for processing” without reconditioning and reinspection, but subject to form filing requirements.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR OBTAINING USDA INSPECTION AND CERTIFICATION: The Specialty Crop Inspection Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is designated as the governmental inspection agency for the purpose of certifying the quality and maturity of the dates prior to importation into the United States.
USDA inspection and certification services are available upon application, in accordance with the rules and regulations governing the inspection and certification of processed fruits and vegetables, processed products thereof, and certain other processed food products [7 CFR Part 52]. The cost of inspection and certification is paid by the applicant.
Importers should make arrangements for inspection and certification prior to entry at Port inspection offices. An onboard bill of lading designating the lots to be inspected must accompany applications for inspection or be submitted promptly thereafter.
WASHINGTON HEADQUARTERS INSPECTION OFFICE: USDA, AMS, Fruit and Vegetable Program, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 1661-S, Stop 0247, Washington, D.C. 20250-0247, Phone: 202-720-2482 or 800-811-2373.