The definition of a "meat product" is laid down in Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004. This states that meat products means processed products resulting from the processing of meat or from the further processing of such processed products, so that the cut surface shows that the product no longer has the characteristics of fresh meat.
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. Importation or imports 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.
A) The following rules must be respected before meat products can be introduced into the EU:
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 Regulation 853/2004. 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. All third countries, territories or zones wishing to export meat products into the EU must be included in the list of countries authorised for the export of meat products. This ensures the country has undergone an inspection by the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), and has demonstrated that it fulfils the basic animal and public health requirements for the production of meat products as laid down in the relevant EU legislation. Council Directive 2002/99/EC is the legal basis for all animal health rules governing the production, processing, distribution and introduction of products of animal origin for human consumption. In particular Annex III lists the risk mitigating treatments for various products which are required for the diseases listed in that Annex.
- For meat products derived from bovines, sheep and goats, equidae, swine, farmed and wild non-domesticated animals, a third country usually must be listed in Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2010 indicating that the country has been verified by the FVO as having fulfilled all the basic animal and public health requirements for the import of fresh ungulate meat to be used in the manufacture of meat products from these species.
- For meat products derived from poultry and wild feathered game, a third country usually must be listed in Commission Regulation (EC) No 798/2008 indicating that the country has been verified by the FVO as having fulfilled all the basic animal and public health requirements for the importation of fresh poultry meat.
- For meat products derived from farmed rabbits, wild leporidae (rabbits and hares) and wild land mammals, a third country usually must be listed in Commission Regulation (EC) No 119/2009 indicating that the country has been verified by the FVO as having fulfilled all the basic animal and public health requirements laid down in EU legislation for the importation of fresh wild game meat.
3. When a third country or zone thereof has been listed in the relevant EU legislation, then it is approved for exporting meat products to the EU. This means that also an assessment of the specific disease situation has been carried out, and on the basis of that assessment, the specific treatment requirements during the manufacture of meat products to minimise potential disease risks are laid down for each third country or part thereof. The specific conditions are laid down in the veterinary health certificate.
For example, if a country or zone is authorised for the introduction of fresh meat without any additional guarantee from a certain species, then, in principle, no additional treatment requirements need to be specified during the manufacture of meat products in order to authorise introduction into the EU. This is called a non-specific treatment.
Conversely, if the animal health risks in a third country are considered to be comparatively high, or that country is not listed for the introduction of fresh meat, then meat products will only be authorised for entry into the EU if they have undergone an appropriate treatment regime. This ensures that the products have been through a process that minimises any potential animal health risk. This is called a specific treatment and will depend on the animal health situation in the third country or zone, the species and disease agent concerned.
4. The list of third countries from which Member States authorise the introduction of meat products, the treatment requirements for their manufacture and the animal health conditions and model veterinary certificates that must accompany all meat products being introduced into the EU are maintained in Commission Decision 2007/777/EC.
5. A third country does not necessarily have to be approved for export of fresh meat into the EU (i.e. listed in Regulation (EU) No 206/2010 as it may decide to import meat from the EU or from an approved source in a listed third country for further processing in plants approved for that purpose in its country and then export the meat product to the EU. Additional safeguards may be required in such cases.
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.
Meat products entering the Community are inspected at a Border Inspection Post (BIP) (as listed in Commission Decision 2009/821/EC) where Member States’ official veterinarians ensure they fulfil all the requirements provided for in 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 EU from third countries). There are detailed rules for passengers returning from outside the EU generally prohibiting the introduction of meat products into the EU with a few exceptions. More information can be found [HERE]
7. As is the case for fresh meat, third countries must also comply with certain public health requirements in order to export meat products. For example, a country is required to have an approved ‘residue’ monitoring plan and be listed on Commission Decision 2004/432/EC of 29 April 2004 on the approval of residue monitoring plans submitted by third countries in accordance with Council Directive 96/23/EC, and implement certain conditions in relation to BSE (for products containing bovine and ovine meat). Details of the general public health requirements can be found [HERE] and additional information on residues [HERE].
8. In addition animal welfare requirements at slaughter must be met in accordance with EU legislation. Details of the welfare requirements may be found [HERE].
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.
10. A summary providing "General guidance for third country authorities on procedures to be followed when importing live animals and animal products into the EU" can be found [HERE]
B) Intra- EU Trade
The following rules must be respected before meat products can be traded within the EU:
- The animal health rules governing the production and placing on the market of meat products within the EU are laid down in Council Directive 2002/99/EC. That Directive lays down the conditions under which meat products must be produced if they are to be authorised for trade within the EU.
- The meat products must be produced in a listed authorised establishment. The link to Member States' Web sites listing these establishments is given [HERE].
- All meat products that are placed on the market must carry a health mark and be accompanied by a commercial document containing certain basic information, including the establishment of origin. In the case of an outbreak of a serious disease, a specific animal health veterinary certification may be required and this will be laid down in a Commission Decision relating to the specific outbreak or outbreaks in question.
- Meat products traded within the EU are subject to veterinary checks as laid down in Council Directive 89/662/EEC.
- As is the case for fresh meat, specific public health requirements must also be met in regard to the production of meat products. Details of the public health requirements can be found [HERE].
- In addition animal welfare requirements at slaughter must be met in accordance with EU legislation. Details of the welfare requirements may be found [HERE].