Personal goods containing meat, milk or their products brought into the EU continue to present a real threat to animal health throughout the Union. It is known, for example, that dangerous pathogens that cause animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease and classical swine fever can reside in meat, milk or their products. Therefore, pathogens could be introduced into the EU if personal goods containing meat, milk or their products are sent by post or carried in the baggage of travellers arriving from countries outside the EU, where such pathogens may be circulating.
The current rules were laid down by Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2009. This Regulation clearly explains to the general public the rules concerning the introduction of animal products into the EU. Namely:
- Travellers are not allowed to bring in meat, milk or their products, unless they are coming with less than 10 kilograms of these products from the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, or Iceland
- There is also an exemption for powdered infant milk, infant food, and special foods or special pet feed required for medical reasons, if weighing less than 2 kilograms and provided that:
- such products do not require refrigeration before opening
- that they are packaged proprietary brand products for direct sale to the final consumer, and
- the packaging is unbroken unless in current use
- For fishery products (including fish and certain shellfish such as prawns, lobsters, dead mussels and dead oysters), travellers are allowed to bring in up to 20 kilograms or the weight of one fish if this is higher. However, there is no such weight restriction for travellers coming from the Faeroe Islands or Iceland
- For other animal products, such as honey, live oysters, live mussels and snails for example, travellers are allowed to bring in up to 2 kilograms
- These rules do not apply to animal products transported between the EU Member States, or for animal products coming from Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino or Switzerland.
Enforcing the rules governing the introduction of personal consignments of meat, milk or their products is vital. Provisions include:
- The organisation of controls at EU entry points to detect the presence of illegal consignments of meat, milk or their products
- Where necessary, the deployment of appropriate detection aids such as scanning equipment and detector dogs to screen large quantities of baggage
- The seizure and destruction of personal consignments that are found to be in breach of the rules
- Mechanisms to ensure that those responsible for illegal consignments may be liable for costs or penalties
Following the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic within the EU, the Commission considered that the mechanisms in place to prevent the introduction of personal consignments of meat, milk or their products should be strengthened across the EU.
First of all, the EU put an end to the temporary exemptions that had previously allowed personal consignments of meat, milk or their products to be carried into the EU without veterinary certification. These safeguard rules were laid down in Commission Decision 2002/995/EC. For more information, please refer to the following press releases: