El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at the Ysleta cargo import facility perform numerous inspections on cargo shipments being imported into the United States. On Wednesday an inspection of a shipment of apple puree in 50 gallon barrels revealed soil contamination. Several pallets used to ship the product were also not in compliance with wood packing material (WPM) guidelines of the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).
"Noncompliant wood packaging materials pose a dangerous threat to the welfare of our agricultural industry," said Bill Molaski, CBP El Paso port director. "Pests can be introduced in untreated wood products as well as in contaminated soil."
The shipment of apple puree was refused entry into the U.S. and was re-exported to Mexico in accordance with the WPM guidelines and for soil contamination. CBP has posted IPPC information for the trade community at www.cbp.gov
In 2005 the United States, in cooperation with Mexico and Canada, began enforcement of the international standards for regulating WPM. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), with the support of CBP, enforce the requirements listed in the "Guideline for Regulating Wood Packing Material in International Trade" outlined in the IPPC. If WPM is unmarked it is considered to be untreated and non-compliant. There are two treatment options, heat treatment or fumigation. After either treatment, the WPM is marked with a legible, permanent, visible approved IPPC stamp certifying the WPM.
Untreated wood can harbor plant pests and pathogens that can be detrimental to urban, cultivated or natural forest resources. Enforcement efforts by CBP help mitigate the pest risk presented by the importation of untreated solid wood packing material such as pallets, crates, and boxes. During the current fiscal year, 102 commercial entries were refused entry into the U.S. through the El Paso cargo facilities, 19 of those shipments contained live wood boring pests. The regulation allows for immediate export of the non-compliant WPM with the responsibility falling on the importer of the merchandise.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.