Fresh meat refers to 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. The definitions of "meat" and "fresh meat" are laid down in Annex I of Regulation (EC) No 853/2004.
Fresh meat of domestic and wild ungulates includes fresh meat of for example:
- bovine animals (including buffalo and bison)
- ovine and caprine animals
- porcine animals
General health rules for trade or introduction into the European Union (EU) of fresh meat for human consumption
- 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
- Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, Regulation (EC) No 852/2004, Regulation (EC) No 853/2004, Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 and Regulation (EC) 882/2004 form the legal base for the public health rules for trade and introduction into the EU
Introduction of fresh meat of domestic and wild ungulates into the EU
Harmonisation ensures that the same requirements for introduction of fresh meat are applied in all the Member States, and prevents fresh meat that may carry infectious diseases that are dangerous for livestock or humans from entering the EU territory.
These principles apply also to consignments which are in transit and/or temporarily stored in the EU. According to the risk they may represent, such fresh meat is exempt from the public health requirements but must fulfill the animal health requirements.
- The non-EU country of origin must be authorised for introduction of fresh meat into the EU
- The establishment of origin must be approved and authorised as an establishment, from which the specific fresh meat species may be introduced into the EU
- The non-EU country of origin must have an approved residue plan for the relevant animal species
The non-EU country must fulfill certain requirements to be authorised for the introduction of fresh meat. The most important aspects to be evaluated before authorisation are:
- the organisation, structure, competence and empowerment of the veterinary services
- the legislation of the non-EU country
- the non-EU country's rules on the prevention and control of animal diseases
- the health status of livestock, other domestic animals and of wildlife
- the regularity and rapidity of information on infectious animal diseases provided by the non-EU country to the European Commission and to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
- the health requirements for the production, manufacture, handling, storage and dispatch of products of animal origin
Before a non-EU country is authorised to introduce fresh meat into the EU, the EU Commission may carry out an audit to verify that all the criteria provided for under EU legislation are properly fulfilled.
Authorised non-EU countries
Based on the principles contained in EU legislation and the results of the Commission audit, the non-EU country may be added to the list of non-EU countries authorised for the introduction of fresh meat of domestic and wild ungulates into the EU, contained in Commission Regulation (EU) No 206/2010 laying down lists of non-EU countries, territories or parts thereof authorised for the introduction into the European Union of certain animals and fresh meat and the veterinary certification requirements. A non-EU country must be listed in that Regulation before exporting fresh meat to the EU.
This Regulation contains details of any animal health requirements and the appropriate veterinary certificate models which are required to ensure that fresh meat from of domestic and wild ungulates can be introduced safely into the EU. Such veterinary certificate must accompany all consignments of fresh meat entering the EU.
Based on an assessment of the disease situation in the non-EU country, supplementary guarantees may be required to mitigate potential disease risks. Also specific conditions related to geographical, timing or product category restrictions may be laid down and are reflected in the requirements in the veterinary certificate model. For example, certain fresh meat of domestic and wild ungulates, 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.
The EU applies the principle of regionalisation to non-EU countries which cannot offer the same animal health guarantees for the whole of their territory. This means that depending on the animal health situation and the guarantees offered by a non-EU country, in some cases only a part of its territory may be authorised to introduce fresh meat into the EU, or there might be different requirements for different parts of such non-EU country. It is also possible that a non-EU country may only be authorised to introduce fresh meat derived from certain categories of animals due to the animal health situation.
Minced meat and meat preparations
A non-EU country can only be authorised for the introduction into the EU of minced meat or meat preparations, if it is also authorised for the introduction of the fresh meat used for the production of minced meat or meat preparations.
Therefore, a non-EU country must be listed in the relevant lists for import of fresh meat from a certain animal species, before it can export minced meat or meat preparations of that species into the EU.
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. The non-EU countries are responsible to keep theup to date and to inform the Commission of any changes. Lists of establishments in non-EU countries that are authorised to produce fresh meat are published on the Commissions webpage.
For fresh meat of domestic and wild ungulatesCommission Regulation (EU) No 206/2010 makes a distinction between the categories of fresh meat based on both the species and the place of origin. The harmonised veterinary certificate models cover different species of ungulates.
The certificates for minced meat are the same as for fresh meat for the relevant species as laid down in Commission Regulation (EU) No 206/2010. Minced meat is authorised for introduction into the EU only if it is prepared from fresh meat from bovines, sheep, goats or swine.
The veterinary certificate for meat preparations is laid down in Commission Decision 2000/572/EU.
Certain public health requirements must be met. For example, a non-EU country is required to have an approved "residue" monitoring plan , and implement certain conditions in relation to Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE).
Animal welfare requirements at slaughter must be met in accordance with EU legislation.
Border Inspectionand Traceability
Fresh meat entering the EU is inspected at an EU Border Inspection Post (BIP) - listed in Annex I to Commission Decision 2009/821/EC - where Member States' official veterinarians ensure the meat fulfills all the requirements provided for in the EU legislation. Council Directive 97/78/EC lays down the principles governing the organisation of veterinary checks on products of animal origin entering the EU from non-EU countries.
TRACES (TRAde Control and Expert System) is an informatics system managing import controls at BIPs and ensuring traceability and uniform controls within the EU.
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 EU via a BIP.
For more information and guidance, please refer to International Affairs - Import Conditions.