EU Food Imports: Monitoring

House of Lords written question – answered on 10th May 2001.

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Photo of Viscount Cranborne Viscount Cranborne Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the other members of the European Union have adequate monitoring standards for food imports entering the European Union but destined for the United Kingdom.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

Requirements for imports of products of animal origin into the European Union are harmonised. Such products may only be imported through border inspection posts (BIPs) and these are subject to approval by the European Commission. The European Food and Veterinary Office also carries out inspections of member states' BIPs after they have been approved to ensure that standards are maintained. A system of documentary, identity and physical checks for all imports of products of animal origin into the European Union is in place.

Ther are EU import controls for certain products of non-animal origin where, for example, there is a risk of aflatoxin contamination. However, importation of products of non-animal origin is not harmonised generally at European Union level and imports are subject to national measures.

Imports of meat and meat products into the United Kingdom, as into other member states of the European Union, take place within the framework of European law. My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has asked the European Commission to give urgent attention to ensuring that the law on personal imports into the EU is clear and robust. Commissioner Byrne indicated at a meeting of the Agriculture Council on 24-25 April that the Commission attaches great importance to ensuring that there is a high level of protection from disease at the Community's borders. The Commission has indicated that the main scope for tightening the EU's policy on imports lies in ensuring that the current rules are properly policed and in identifying and closing any loopholes.

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