A large shipment of Italian olive oil detained for weeks by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was cleared when its shipper was removed from an import alert, also known as the “Red List.”
Ninety-eight shipping containers were held earlier this month in the ports of New York and Seattle, according to Italian Member of the European Parliament Sergio Silvestris. Last week, the FDA confirmed that the detained containers were shipped by a major Italian olive oil producer, Certified Origins Italia, the company that produces Costco’s Kirkland’s Best and Bellucci Premium brands.
Certified Origins was added to the FDA’s import alert 99-08 in January, and remained listed as late as Friday. Today, however, the company does not appear on the list.
An FDA import alert provides that shipments may be subject to detention without a physical examination if the shipper fails to provide an analysis indicating the food is free of illegal residues of the cited pesticides, but last week the FDA said its own physical testing disclosed the pesticide chlorpyrifos in the Certified Origins shipment.
A company is only removed from the alert once it has demonstrated to the FDA that it has resolved the issue that gave rise to the violation. An FDA spokesman said the evidence to show that the issue has been resolved may differ from one case to the next. He would not say what evidence Certified Origins presented to be removed from the import alert.
Concerns over the matter reached the European Parliament earlier this month when Silvestris, who called the levels of pesticide detected in the detained shipment “minimal,” asked in a written question, “Why has a bilateral agreement with the U.S. in relation to that substance not yet been reached?”
Calls to representatives of Certified Origins seeking comment about the detained shipments were not returned.