Meat Imports

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 17th October 2002.

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Photo of Geraldine Smith Geraldine Smith Labour, Morecambe and Lunesdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what controls on meat imports are in place to guard against foot and mouth and other diseases.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

All legally presented consignments of fresh meat imported into the UK from other EU Member States must have been produced in accordance with Community rules laid down in Council Directive 64/433/EEC. Imports from third countries must have been produced to standards at least equivalent to those in the Directive. The European Commission's Food and Veterinary office is responsible for carrying out inspections in third countries from which fresh meat is imported into the community.

In respect of the importation of meat into the United Kingdom and the risk posed by FMD, European Community legislation permits us to import meat from certain countries where FMD is present but only where the disease is restricted to specific areas. Community legislation allows us to take appropriate safeguard action, which may include a ban on imports of meat from all, or parts of that country.

All imported meat in to the United Kingdom from third countries must enter at a designated Border Inspection Post where it is subject to veterinary inspections. All consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments undergo physical checks. These checks ensure that import conditions are met and that the products remain in a satisfactory condition during transport.

The Government accepts more needs to be done to tackle illicit trade. An Action plan was published at the end of March which contains a range of measures. A progress report was issued on 8 July. A copy can be viewed on the Defra Illegal Imports website (

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