May 24, 2017

When Do You Need to Secure a USDA or Canadian (CFIA) Inspection?

By: Tom Oliveri

One of my first blogs four years ago was titled “Never request an USDA inspection”. In this blog, I opined about “When should a FOB shipper request a USDA inspection at contract destination?  In my opinion, the answer is almost never! The only thing a FOB shipper should be requesting from its buyer is the payment of the FOB invoice. Let me explain. The burden is always on the buyer to prove the produce it purchased failed to meet contract specifications (good arrival standards) upon arrival.  The buyer does that by securing a USDA inspection. Therefore, you, as a shipper, would never want to request that your buyer have the product inspected. Instead, let your buyer make their own decision on whether or not to get the product inspected upon arrival.”

Alternatively, if you need to pursue a truck claim because of your relationship with the buyer, you must always obtain an USDA inspection or a Canadian, CFIA inspection to prove that the transportation actually caused damage to the product.  This decision to obtain an inspection would come into play on delivered contracts, or when you have agreed to accept a rejection with your FOB contract.

In recent months, I have been receiving calls from shippers wanting assistance in filing truck claims against carriers due to high pulp temperatures of the product at contract destination. This narrow approach for a temperature claim can become extremely challenging when a USDA inspection is not secured to establish that the product was directly damaged due to abnormal transit conditions because of high transit temperatures. Merely because the product arrived at destination showing modestly elevated pulp temperatures, or a temperature recording chart 5-7 degrees beyond setting request, does not automatically mean that the produce was damaged or failed to meet contract specifications (good delivery).  You must prove damage to the product in order to have a valid claim against a carrier.  The only way to verify damage to the product is via a USDA inspection, not an in-house inspection but a USDA inspection or Canadian, CFIA inspection.

In closing, while in most all circumstances, whether you are selling your product on an FOB or Delivered basis, once your customer accepts the product at destination there is no need for you ever to request a USDA or Canadian CFIA inspection. However, should your customer reject the shipment back to you without the benefit of a USDA or Canadian CFIA inspection, you MUST have the product inspected as soon as possible to establish if your customer made an unjustified rejection and/or to document a potential carrier claim.

As always, should you have any questions concerning what course of action to take when dealing with any type of claim situation or calculating provable damages, please contact me at 949-885-2269 or