Written Answers. - Meat Imports.

Billy Timmins

Question:

188 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if meat products imported into this country from non-EU countries are subject to full traceability; the way in which this is monitored; if he has satisfied himself that it is produced in a similar fashion to the same product here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2862/03]

Controls on the importation of meat into the EU from third countries have been set down in EU legislation. There is free circulation of meat produced within the EU but there are uniform EU-wide controls on the production of such meat.

All animal product imports from third countries must come from establishments in those countries which are approved by the EU and bear an EU health mark, except in certain instances when a product may be imported under a licence. The Food and Veterinary Office of the EU carries out inspections to ensure that only establishments that meet hygiene and health standards equivalent to those operating within the EU will be approved. Where the Food and Veterinary Office is satisfied that public health requirements are not being met by premises in those countries, the establishments may be removed from the EU approved list.
Consignments of meat products coming from third countries must be imported through an approved border inspection post upon first entry into the EU. Aside from having the necessary documentation for tariff processing by the customs authorities and being registered as mentioned above, importers are required to give at least 24 hours advance notice to the border inspection post at which their consignment is to be landed. Goods failing to comply with the veterinary control checks carried out at the border inspection post may be detained for further examination and if necessary they may be destroyed. Once products have met with all required conditions, they are released for free circulation within the European Community.