Domestic and wild ungulates includes bovine animals (including buffalo and bison), ovine and caprine animals, porcine animals and solipeds. The definition of a "meat" is laid down in Annex I of Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 and "fresh meat" means meat that has not undergone any preserving process other than chilling, freezing or quick-freezing, including meat that is vacuum-wrapped or wrapped in a controlled atmosphere.
Under the terms of the Treaty establishing the European Union (EU), there is a clear difference between the definitions for trade and introduction. In relation to live animals and animal products, intra-EU trade or "trade" refers solely to the movement of animals and animal products between EU Member States. Introduction refers solely to the movement of animals and animal products into the Member States from third Countries outside the EU.
NB Introduction, as it covers transit with or without storage in the EU, has generally replaced the word import except in the case of live animals.
The following health rules must be respected before fresh meat derived from these domestic animals and wild ungulates can be introduced into the EU or traded hence:
- Council Directive 2002/99/EC forms the legal basis for all animal health rules governing the production processing; distribution and introduction of products of animal origin for human consumption and supersedes Council Directive 72/462/EEC.
- Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 forms the legal base for the public health for EU-trade and imports.
The rules for introduction are outlined below
- Harmonisation ensures that the same requirements for introduction of fresh meat are applied in all the Member States, and prevents meat that may be carrying infectious diseases that are dangerous for livestock or humans from entering EU territory. These principles apply to consignments which are in transit and/or temporarily stored in the EU but eventually will not be consumed by citizens of the Member States. According to the risk they may represent, such products are exempt from the public health rules but must satisfy the animal health rules.
- Description of the principles on which introduction of meat is authorised, and the requirements to be fulfilled by a third country before it can export fresh meat. The most important aspects are
- the legislation of the third country.
- the health status of livestock, of other domestic animals and wild life.
- the regularity and rapidity of information on infectious animal diseases provided by the third country to the Commission and the World Organisation for Animal Health.
- the animal health requirements for the production, manufacture, handling, storage and dispatch of products of animal origin.
- the country's rules on the prevention and control of animal diseases.
- the organisation, structure, competence and power of the veterinary services.
- Possibility to regionalise a country (zoning). This means that depending on the animal health situation and the guarantees offered by that country, only a part of its territory may be authorised to export fresh meat to the EU.
- In addition, other more specific conditions as regards certain important infectious animal diseases may be laid down.
- There is also the requirement that all imports of fresh meat into the EU must come from an approved establishment (slaughterhouse, cutting plant etc) that has been authorised and listed for that purpose. Criteria that must be fulfilled in order for an establishment to be authorised are listed in the Directive. A list of establishments that are authorised to produce fresh meat are maintained in specific Commission Decisions for each third country and a link to the website with an up to date list can be found [ HERE].
2. Before a third country or part thereof is authorised to export fresh meat derived from the above mentioned animals into the EU, the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) may carry out a mission to verify that all the criteria provided for under EU legislation are properly fulfilled.
3. Based on the principles contained in EU legislation and on the results of the FVO mission, the third country may be added to the list of third countries authorised for the export of fresh meat as laid down in Commission Regulation (EU) No 206/2010 of 12 March 2010 laying down lists of third countries, territories or parts thereof authorised for the introduction into the European Union of certain animals and fresh meat and the veterinary certification requirements which replaces Council Decision 79/542/EEC. A third country must be listed in that Regulation before exporting fresh meat to the EU.
"NB For a transitional period until 30 June 2010, consignments of fresh meat intended for human consumption in respect of which the relevant veterinary certificates have been issued in accordance with Decisions 79/542/EEC, may continue to be introduced into the Union."
An assessment of the specific disease situation is carried out. Supplementary guarantees may be required to mitigate potential disease risks. Specific conditions related to geographical, timing or product category restrictions may be laid down and are reflected in the requirements in the veterinary health certificate, the original of which, must accompany all fresh meat entering the EU.
For example, from certain third countries listed in for the introduction of fresh meat, meat derived from animals that have been vaccinated against foot and mouth disease (FMD) is required to undergo additional treatment, i.e. de-boning and maturation prior to introduction into the EU, to ensure the meat cannot transmit FMD virus.
4. Commission Regulation (EU) No 206/2010 now contains in one document the list of third countries, territories and, where they have been defined, zones, and details of any additional animal health requirements, and the appropriate animal health certificates which are required to ensure that fresh meat from ungulates from the listed third countries or parts thereof can be introduced safely.
5. Commission Regulation (EU) No 206/2010 makes a clear distinction between nine basic categories of fresh meat based on both the species and the place of origin. The model certificates are coded and cover the following species:
- domestic animals: bovines (including buffalo and bison) (BOV), sheep and goats (OVI), porcines (POR) and equines (EQU);
- farmed non-domestic animals: suidae (SUF) and animals other than suidae and solipeds (RUF);
- wild non-domestic animals: suidae (SUW), solipeds (EQW) and animals other than suidae and solipeds (RUW);
- in addition a specific model transit certificate is also laid down to cover meat from all these species for animal health purposes only.
Following the result of FVO inspections, it is possible that a third country may only be authorised to introduce fresh meat derived from certain categories of animals due to the animal health situation in that country.
6. In order to export fresh meat, third countries must also comply with certain public health requirements. For example, a country is required to have an approved " residue" monitoring plan, and implement certain conditions in relation to BSE. Details of the public health requirements can be found [ HERE].
7. In addition animal welfare requirements at slaughter must be met in accordance with Community legislation.
8. Fresh meat entering the EU are inspected at a Border Inspection Post (BIP)(listed in Commission Decision 2009/821/EC) where Member States' official veterinarians ensure they fulfil all the requirements provided for in the EU legislation. ( Council Directive 97/78/EC of 18 December 1997 lays down the principles governing the organisation of veterinary checks on products of animals origin entering the Community from third countries).
9.The importers must follow the procedures laid down in Commission Regulation (EC) No 136/2004 before, during and after the entry of the goods of animal origin into the Community via a BIP. To ensure better traceability and more uniform control, the Commission introduced a veterinary informatics system called TRACES (TRAde Control and Expert System). The system is also accessible for economic operators who want to participate in it for their own benefit, i.e. for the easier completion of consignment introduction details. To use the application please visit https://sanco.cec.europa.eu/traces. Online training is provided at http://www.traces-cbt.net. To learn more about TRACES or for further information please contact your local competent veterinary authority in the EU.