According to the EU legislation Member States of the EU may permit only imports of food of animal origin from:'
- third countries or part of third countries authorised by the EU, and
- establishments authorised by the EU.
A veterinary certificate authorised by the EU must accompany all imported food of animal origin.
Where no EU import legislation has been established, e.g. eggs, the importation of the food can only take place according to national legislation of the importing Member State of the EU.
Conditions for authorisation
In deciding whether a third country or part thereof may be authorised by EU, particular account shall be taken of:
- the state of health of the livestock, other domestic animals and wildlife in the third country, particular attention being paid to exotic animal diseases and of the environmental health situation in that country, which might endanger public and animal health in the Member States of EU,
- the regularity and rapidity of the information supplied by the third country relating to the existence of infectious or contagious animal diseases in its territory, in particular those diseases mentioned in Lists A and B of the International Office of Epizootic Diseases,
- the country's rules on animal disease prevention and control,
- the structure of the veterinary services in the country and their powers,
- the organisation and implementation of measures to prevent and control infectious or contagious animal diseases,
- the country's legislation on the use of substances (veterinary drugs), in particular legislation concerning the prohibition or authorisation of substances, their distribution, release on to the market and their rules covering administration and inspection,
- the guarantees provided by the third country in regard to public health and animal health.
Apart from abattoirs and meat product plants, EU authorises establishments on a provisionally basis according to guarantees received from the competent authority situated in EU authorised third countries.
Provisional lists of third country establishments from which imports are authorised for each commodity of food of animal origin can be drawn up, where the following conditions are met:
- the establishments must be situated in a third country or part of a third country appearing on the list of third countries from which imports of the products concerned are authorised,
- the establishment must be situated in a third country or part of a third country for which the relevant import conditions and certification requirements for the products concerned have been established in accordance with the provisions of the specific directives,
- the competent authority of the third country concerned has provided the Commission with satisfactory guarantees that the establishments appearing on the list or lists meet the relevant EU health requirements and has officially approved the establishment appearing on the lists for exportation to the EU,
- the competent authority of the third country must have a real power to suspend the activities for exportation to the EU of an establishment for which that authority has provided guarantees, in the event of non-compliance with the said guarantees,
- a EU or Member State inspection mission has checked the structure and organisation of the competent authority responsible for the approval of the establishment as well as the powers available to that competent authority and the guarantees that it can provide in regard to the implementation of EU rules. These checks must include on the spot inspection of a certain number of establishments appearing on the list or lists provided by the third country.
For fishery products, the EU shall draw up a list of third countries or parts of third countries from which the import of fishery products is authorised, where the competent authority of the third country has provided the EU with guarantees at least equivalent to those provided for by Directive 91/493/EEC.
The veterinary check
Before entering the EU, all food of animal origin must undergo a veterinary check at one of the authorised Border Inspection Posts situated at the external border of EU.
The veterinary check consists of:
- documentary check, in order to ascertain that the particulars contained in the afford the guarantees required,
- identity check, in order to ascertain that the products correspond to the information given in the accompanying certificates,
- physical check, in order to ascertain that the products meet the requirements set up in the EU legislation and are in a fit state to be used for the purpose specified in the accompanying certificate.
The physical check must include organoleptic examination of the consignment, and may include on the spot tests at the Border Inspection Post and official sampling for laboratory examination.
The Border Inspection Post must be notified in advance (24 h/6 h) by the importer, when food of animal origin arrives for veterinary check.
All expenditure incurred pursuant to the veterinary checks shall be chargeable to the person responsible for the load.
According to the EU legislation on residues all third countries must by 31 March 2000 a residue monitoring plan for those foodstuffs of animal origin for import into EU for year 2000. The plan must demonstrate compliance with directive 96/23/EC. Furthermore all third countries must by 31 March 2000 present the results of the residue monitoring plan for the year 1999 for those foodstuffs of animal origin which have been imported into EU during 1999.