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Meat: Imports

Volume 470: debated on Thursday 10 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure that meat is not imported from countries which are experiencing problems with foot and mouth disease; and if he will make a statement. (174709)

Controls on imports of meat are laid down in European Community legislation. Imports are permitted from certain countries where foot and mouth disease (FMD) is present, but only where the disease is restricted to specific areas. In such cases, imports are only permitted from parts of the country that are free of disease or under strict conditions to ensure the meat does not come from any animal that may have come in contact with FMD before, during or after slaughter. These provisions are in line with guidelines established by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), the world animal health organisation.

All meat imported from third countries must be accompanied by appropriate veterinary certification. It must enter at designated Border Inspection Posts where checks are carried out to ensure that import conditions have been met. All consignments are subject to identity and documentary checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments undergo a physical check.

If an EU country experiences an outbreak of FMD, meat from that country can only be traded if it meets certain conditions laid down in Community law in relation to the origin and/or processing of the meat. Community law also allows Member States to take appropriate safeguard action, which may include a ban on imports of meat from all, or parts of, EU and third countries where FMD is present.