STC Number - 253

Export certification requirements for dairy products

Maintained by: India
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by:
First date raised: June 2007 G/SPS/R/45, paras. 19-20
Dates subsequently raised: October 2007 (G/SPS/R/46, paras. 27-28 )
Number of times subsequently raised: 1
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 04 Dairy produce; birds' eggs; natural honey; edible products of animal origin, not elsewhere specified or included
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2007, the United States stated that India had imposed a number of certification requirements on imported dairy products that were trade prohibitive and lacked any scientific justification. These requirements also raised questions regarding national treatment. There was a long history with over 40 years of exports of US dairy products to India with no reported violations of Indian safety standards. Although the United States had proposed certificate language to India in October 2006, no progress had been made towards the resolution of this problem.
India observed that the protocol in place in India established limits for contaminants that were in accordance with Codex standards. Indian authorities were still studying the US comments on India's protocol for dairy products.
In October 2007, the United States expressed concern that India maintained more stringent maximum residue levels (MRLs) on imported dairy products than it did for domestic products, raising serious questions regarding India's adherence to its international obligations. In October 2006, the United States had proposed a health certificate attesting that US milk and milk products were fit for human consumption. However, India had refused to accept the certificate, highlighting concerns regarding US action levels for dairy products. Bilateral technical meeting had been held in May 2007 to discuss the issue and the United States submitted various supporting documents as requested by the Indian experts., but no response was received. Additionally, the United States had requested bilateral health discussions with the Indian technical experts, but no response had been received. The United States urged India to reconsider its October 2006 certification proposal and also requested India to formally and comprehensively respond to the proposal and subsequent requests.
India indicated that a health protocol for dairy products had been in place since 2006 and that it applied to all dairy products being exported to India. Various dairy products from the United States were currently being imported as per the existing protocol. The sanitary certification for India proscribed limits of contaminants in accordance with Codex standards, and India's standards for contaminants in domestic dairy products were also in line with Codex standards for the majority of contaminants and even higher for some. The additional information provided on the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) Pesticide Data Program and on the test results of pesticides in milk samples were being currently examined by technical experts. Regarding the US proposed certificate, India had analyzed the action level of certain contaminants cited in the US document and found that they were less strict than the Codex standards. In a recent high level meeting, it was decided that the United States would send a team of technical experts to India. During a bilateral meeting, just prior to the SPS Committee meeting, the United States had asked for certain clarifications. This request would be conveyed to India's technical experts in capital.