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EU import conditions for live poultry and poultry products

by 5m Editor
11 July 2007, at 12:51pm

EU - Import rules in the European Union for live poultry (including hatching eggs) and poultry products (including egg products) are fully harmonised and the European Commission acts as the competent authority on behalf of the 27 Member States. The EU Commission is the sole negotiating partner for all non-EU countries in questions related to import conditions.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection is responsible for food safety in the European Union. Our import rules seek to guarantee that all imports fulfil the same high standards as products from EU Member States - not only with respect to hygiene and all aspects of consumer safety but also regarding their animal health status.

Importation of live poultry and poultry products into the European Union are subject to veterinary certification – which is based on the recognition of the competent authority of the non-EU country under EU legislation.

This formal recognition of the reliability of the competent authority is a pre-requisite for the country to be eligible and authorized for export to the European Union. Legally legitimate and adequately empowered authorities in the exporting country must ensure credible inspection and controls throughout the production chain, which cover all relevant aspects of hygiene, animal health, animal welfare and public health.

All other interested parties and private businesses should contact their competent authority and communicate with the European Union via this channel.

Criteria

For live poultry and poultry products, countries of origin must be on a positive list of eligible countries. The eligibility criteria are laid down in Decisions 93/342/EEC and 94/438/EC. These decisions can be accessed via the EUR-Lex webpages

The main criteria are:

  • The exporting countries must have a competent veterinary authority which is responsible throughout the food chain. The authorities must be empowered, structured and resourced to implement effective inspection and guarantee credible certification of the relevant veterinary and general hygiene conditions.
  • The country or region of origin must fulfil the relevant animal health standards. This implies that the country should be a member of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and should meet that organisation’s standards and reporting obligations. In addition, approved countries have to notify within 24 hours outbreaks of avian influenza and Newcastle disease and must submit virus isolates to the EU Community Reference Laboratory.
  • Adequate veterinary services must ensure effective enforcement of all necessary health controls.
  • Imports are only authorised from approved establishments (e.g. slaughterhouses, cutting plants, game handling establishments, cold stores, meat processing plants), which have been inspected by the competent authority of the exporting country and found to meet EU requirements. The authority provides the necessary guarantees and is obliged to carry out regular inspections.
  • The veterinary authorities must have at its disposal one or more laboratories that comply with certain minimum requirements, ensuring sufficient capability for disease diagnosis.
  • The national authorities must also guarantee that the relevant hygiene and public health requirements are met. The hygiene legislation contains specific requirements on the structure of establishments, equipment and operational processes for slaughter, cutting, storage and handling of meat. These provisions are aimed at ensuring high standards and at preventing any contamination of the product during processing. More information on the food hygiene legislation can be found on the webpages of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection.

    Request for authorisation

    The national authority of a third country must submit a formal request to the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission to export meat or meat products to the EU. The request should contain confirmation that the authority can fulfil all relevant legal provisions to satisfy EU requirements.

    After the request is received the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection will send out a questionnaire to the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of the country applying for authorisation, which should be completed and returned.

    This questionnaire can also be found here and the completed questionnaire can of course be submitted together with the initial request.

    Residue monitoring

    A monitoring system must be in place to verify compliance with EU requirements on residues of veterinary medicines, pesticides and contaminants. The residue monitoring plan of the exporting country must be submitted and approved by the EU Commission.

    More information can be found on the webpages of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection.

    Inspection by the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office

    If the evaluation of the residue monitoring plan and the questionnaire is positive, an inspection by the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) is carried out to assess the situation on the spot. Such an inspection is necessary to confirm compliance with the above requirements. It is the basis of establishing confidence between the EU Commission and the competent authority of the exporting country.

    Authorisation of the exporting country

    Based on the results of the inspection and the guarantees given by the exporting country, the Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection proposes the authorisation of the country for the animals or products concerned, the specific animal health conditions under which imports from that country will be authorised and the list of approved establishments in the country. These are then discussed with representatives of all EU Member States.

    If the Member States have a favourable opinion on the proposal, the European Commission adopts the specific import conditions.

    Lists of eligible establishments can be amended at the request of the exporting country and are made available for the public on the internet. The competent authorities of the exporting countries give the guarantee that they conform and operate to EU legislation, when proposing amendments to the establishment list.

    The third country lists and the specific conditions under which imports of live poultry (including hatching eggs) and poultry products are authorised are laid down in Commission Decision 2006/696/EC (under review). This decision contains as well the certificates which must be used by the competent veterinary authority of the third country when exporting live poultry and poultry products.

5m Editor