U.S. and Italian officials are working on a plan to establish a preclearance program for Italian pears and apples exported to the U.S.

Italian pears and apples are already allowed into the U.S. A preclearance program would allow pears and apples to be inspected and cleared by U.S. Department of Agriculture officials in Italy before they’re shipped, said Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Italy’s Undersecretary for Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies made a request for preclearance consideration in October, Espinosa said.

Since then, USDA has been working with Italy’s National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) on the feasibility of preclearance.

In June, Espinosa said, USDA conducted a site assessment to examine Italian production areas, packing facilities, storage facilities, inspection facilities and port of departure.

USDA also collected information on Italy’s pest management systems, pest monitoring and trapping activities and associated record keeping practices.

“USDA and the NPPO are proceeding deliberately to ensure a successful preclearance program,” Espinosa said.