Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are measures to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants.
The European Union’s legislation lays down a detailed set of these rules to reduce or eliminate the possible risks of animal, plant and public health threats as well as animal and plant diseases being introduced into the EU by goods coming from non-EU countries.
The legislation also foresees rules for co-operation between relevant competent authorities and customs services as well as provisions on targeting controls of goods based on the risks they represent.
Regulation on official controls
Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 lays down the principal rules for official controls to be carried out in order to ensure compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules. Chapter V of this Regulation (Article 14 to 25) particularly deals with controls on food and feed introduced from third countries.
More information on the European Commission’s Food Safety page.
Controls for live animals and products of animal origin
Customs controls ensure that animals and animal products undergo the veterinary checks required by the EU legislation, before entering the Customs territory of the EU.
Legislation on veterinary controls can be found here.
You can also consult the introduction to trade and imports of products of animal origin.
Controls for food of non-animal origin
Regulation (EC) No 669/2009: requires Member States to increase controls on certain imports of feed and food of non-animal origin, which are listed in Annex I to the Regulation.
A Commission Staff Working Document has been published in order to assist national customs authorities with the enforcement of Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 as regards the increased level of official controls on imports of certain feed and food of non-animal origin.
Controls for plants and plant products
Customs participate in controlling that no plant and plant product with diseases are introduced into the Union.
Provisions to be enforced by customs are laid down in Directive 2000/29/EC on protective measures against the introduction into the Community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products and against their spread within the Community.
More information on the plant health & biosecurity webpage.