Game animals refer to land mammals and birds - either in the wild or farmed - that are not normally considered to be domestic animals (the following animals are specifically excluded: bovines, domestic swine, sheep and goats, domestic solipeds, domestic fowl, turkeys, guinea-fowl, ducks and geese).
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 definition of "fresh meat" is laid down in Annex I of Regulation (EC) No 853/2004.
Fresh game meat must fulfil the animal health requirements laid down in the legislation applicable to each classification of game animal. This classification is based on both the species of animal and its origin. Therefore, there is a clear distinction made between:
- fresh meat from wild game, and
- fresh meat from farmed game
General health rules for trade or introduction into the European Union (EU) of fresh game 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 imports
Introduction of fresh game meat into the EU
Harmonisation ensures that the same requirements for introduction of fresh game meat are applied in all the EU countries, and prevents fresh game 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 game meat is exempt from the public health requirements but must fulfill the animal health requirements.
- The third country of origin must be authorised for introduction of fresh game meat into the EU.
- The establishment of origin must be approved and authorised as an establishments, from which the specific fresh game meat may be introduced into the EU
- The third country of origin must have an approved residue plan for the relevant animal species
The third country must fulfill certain requirements to be authorised for the introduction of fresh game 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 third country
- the 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 third country to the European Commission and 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 third country is authorised to introduce fresh meat derived from game animals into the EU, the Commission may carry out an audit to verify that all the criteria provided for under EU legislation are properly fulfilled.
Authorised third countries
Based on the principles contained in EU legislation and on the results of the Commission audit, the third country may be added to the lists of third countries authorised for the introduction of fresh game meat. Before exporting fresh game meat into the EU, a third country must be listed in the relevant list, in accordance with the origin of the game meat (farmed/wild) and the species:
- Third countries authorised for the introduction into the EU of fresh meat from certain ungulates of farmed game and of wild game are listed in Commission Regulation (EU) No 206/2010.
- Third countries authorised for the introduction into the EU of fresh meat of farmed feathered game and of wild feathered game, are listed in Commission Regulation (EC) No 798/2008.
- Third countries authorised for introduction into the EU of fresh meat of farmed rabbit, wild rabbit, hare and certain wild land mammals, are listed in Commission Regulation (EC) No 119/2009.
These Regulations contain details of animal health requirements and the appropriate veterinary certificate models which are required to ensure that fresh game meat can be introduced safely into the EU. Such veterinary certificate must accompany all consignments of fresh game meat entering the EU.
Based on an assessment of the disease situation in the third country, specific conditions related to geographical, timing or product category restrictions may be necessary in order to mitigate potential disease risks. This is laid down and reflected in the requirements in the veterinary certificates.
All imports of fresh game meat into the EU must come from an approved establishment (slaughterhouse, game processing plant, etc.) that has been authorised and listed for that purpose. The third countries are responsible to keep the lists of establishments up to date and to inform the Commission of any changes. Lists of establishments in third countries that are authorised to produce fresh meat are published on the Commissions webpage.
The veterinary certificates for fresh game meat are laid down in the legislation as indicated above for the listing of third countries. The different veterinary certificates reflect the different disease susceptibility and breeding conditions between various types of game animals, including wild and farmed game.
Certain public health requirements must be met. For example, a third country is required to have an approved "residue" monitoring plan.
Animal welfare requirements at the time of slaughter must be met in accordance with EU legislation.
Border Inspections and traceability
Game meat entering the EU is inspected at an EU Border Inspection Post (BIP) - listed in Annex I to Commission Decision 2009/821/EC - where the EU countries' official veterinarians ensure the game meat fulfils 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 third countries.
TRACES (TRAde Control and Expert System) is an information 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.