Before a third country is approved to export to the European Union (EU), the exporting country must have:
(i) an acceptable disease status
(ii) a recognised standard for relevant control authorities
(iii) guarantees with regard to compliance with EU import rules; and
(iv) results of European Commission missions to the country.
All meat imported from third countries must be accompanied by veterinary certification. This must confirm that the meat is derived from animals that have been subjected to a veterinary inspection during the 24 hour period prior to slaughter and showed no signs of foot and mouth disease. The meat must enter the UK at designated border inspection posts, 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 by an official veterinary surgeon. These measures ensure import conditions are met and that the products remain in a satisfactory condition during transport.
Meat imported from other member states is not checked at the frontier, but is subject to random checks at the point of destination.
If there is an outbreak of disease likely to present a risk to human or animal health, 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.