Food imported into the UK/Europe from non-EU countries is regulated under UK and EU legislation. The responsibility for regulating imports lies with the Food Standards Agency and Defra. Enforcement of the rules is carried out by Local Authorities (including Port Health Authorities). The controls can be broadly split into those carried out on products of animal origin, non animal origin and plant products.

Producer: Conor Cull

Company:  Desert Dog Productions

Animal health controls apply to these products, which include meat and poultry meat, meat products and other products of animal origin such as hides, skins, eggs, milk and dairy products, animal fats, offal, bones, fishmeal, bristle and game trophies.

Public health controls are also applied to ensure that products intended for food are produced in conditions that satisfy hygiene standards.

Since January 2010 imports of fish and fish products from outside the European Community have been subject to new rules on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. Imports will need to be accompanied by a validated certificate. An Information Note about the new rules is available on the Defra website.

Public and Plant health controls apply to any goods intended for sale for human consumption and impose safety in terms of microbiological and chemical safety as well as marketing and other food standards such as labelling and composition. Some high risk products are subject to special controls that set out import conditions and include pistachios, peanuts and chilli powder.

Plant health restrictions apply to the import of trees, plants and plant produce and products, including non-manufactured articles of wood from outside the EU. More information can be found on the Defra website.

Certain regulations must be complied with in order to import organic produce into the UK. More information can be found on the Defra website. The way organic imports from third countries are handled changed in 2008/2009.  Click here to view the latest DEFRA guidelines

More Information

The is a good source of information on imported food for both commercial and personal imports.

Information and guidance relating to imports has been developed and placed on the Businesslink website.

For a list of countries in the EU click here

NB Although the whole of Cyprus is part of the EU, goods from any area of Cyprus not under effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus are treated as non-EU imports.

Relevant Legislation

General Food Regulations 2004
Official Food and Feed Regulations 2009
Food Hygiene Regulations 2006
The Trade in Animals and Related Products Regulations 2011

The Plant Health Order 2005

UK legislation can be found at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/