Importing products of animal origin

Imported products of animal origin (POAO) and live animals present a high level of risk as they can transmit serious human and animal diseases. 

Imported products of animal origin (POAO) and live animals present a high level of risk as they can transmit serious human and animal diseases. Veterinary border controls assure that consignments of live animals or products of animal origin can only enter into the EU, if they have satisfactorily undergone specific checks.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), is responsible for imports of products of animal origin.  You can find information on the controls for POAO imported from outside the EU on the APHA website or alternatively you can contact them at imports@apha.gsi.gov.uk, or 03000 200 301. 

A range of controls exist for POAO imported from outside the EU to protect both public and animal health.  Examples of animal products imported for human consumption that must be checked include:

  • meat, including fresh meat, meat products, minced meat, meat preparations, poultry meat, rabbit, farmed game meat and wild game meat
  • eggs and egg products
  • milk and milk products
  • fish and fishery products
  • honey and
  • gelatine and gelatine products

A full list of POAO can be found at Commission Decision 2007/275/EC.

Each batch or 'consignment' of POAO products must:

  • come from a country approved to export that type of product to the European Union (EU)
  • come from EU-approved premises. The list of establishments approved to export animal products, apart from egg products and honey, can be found on the EU website
  • be accompanied by animal health and public health certification and
  • enter the EU through a Border Inspection Post (BIP) where veterinary checks must be carried out (all consignments must be pre-notified to the BIP prior to arrival).

Imported POAO must be presented at a designated BIP for veterinary checks to be carried out.  Consignments failing the documentary, identity and physical checks will not be allowed into the UK and may be destroyed. Animal products entering the UK from other EU Member States must have undergone import checks at a BIP where they entered the EU.

POAO from non-EU countries

Importers of POAO from a non-EU country have certain responsibilities at the point of entry into the UK. In particular they are required to:

  • notify the BIP in advance of arrival of any POAO consignments,
  • submit the relevant documentation to the BIP, including an original health certificate - the type of certification required is dependent on the product type and country of origin,
  • present the consignment to the BIP for veterinary checks to take place,
  • pay for all charges for the inspection of the goods, and
  • retain the Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED), issued upon clearance, for one year at the first point of destination of goods in the EU.

A consignment of live animals or animal products can only enter into the EU if it has satisfactorily undergone the specific checks and a CVED is issued from TRAde Control and Expert System (TRACES).  This is a European centralised database which allows the monitoring of consignments of live animals and animal products checked at the BIPs. TRACES may automatically exchange data on import controls with customs authorities.

Once a consignment has passed veterinary checks and the CVED is issued, the POAO is permitted free circulation within the EU. Free circulation is where food products can freely move within the EU without customs checks (although there may be national controls where there are risks to public health).    

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