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Imported foods

Every year, around 20 million passengers and 200,000 tonnes of cargo pass through Stansted airport which means that Stansted Airport is the second largest airport in London for cargo. 

The cargo that comes through Stansted can be anything from exotic fruit and vegetables to meat, fish and blood products. There is a substantial amount of EU legislation governing imports of these products.

Products of animal origin

Below is a list of 'Products of animal origin' that require Vet checks at the Border Inspection Post (BIP) (please be aware that import requirements frequently change and it is strongly advised that DEFRA or our office is contacted to clarify any specific import conditions, before it leaves the country of origin). Authorised officers and official veterinary surgeon (OVS) are involved with checking these products;

"Products of animal origin" include the following:

  • Animal casings 
  • Apiculture products 
  • Animal blood products for technical use 
  • Bones and bone products 
  • Bristles, wool, hair and feathers 
  • Crocodile and other reptile meat 
  • Eggs and egg products 
  • All fish & fishery products 
  • Fresh meat or offal, and products, of bovine (beef), ovine (sheep), caprine (goat), porcine (pig) and equine (horse), species 
  • Frogs legs and snails 
  • Gelatine 
  • Hay and straw 
  • Hides and skins 
  • Honey 
  • Horns and horn products, hooves and hoof products 
  • Hunting trophies 
  • Lard and rendered fats 
  • Milk and milk products for human consumption 
  • Milk and milk products NOT for human consumption 
  • Pathogens 
  • Poultry, rabbit, game (farmed or wild) - meat and products 
  • Animal protein for human consumption 
  • Animal protein NOT intended for human consumption 
  • Processed pet food, raw material for the manufacture of pet food 
  • Raw material, blood, blood products, glands and organs from animals intended for pharmaceutical use 
  • Animal semen, embryos, ova 
  • Manure 
  • Ratites (e.g. ostrich, rhea)

Commission Decision 2002/349/EC provides a full list of products subject to checks.

A Decision Notice of 17 April 2007 concerning lists of animals and products to be subject to controls at border inspection posts under Council Directives 91/496/EEC and 97/78/EC has been published.

Decision Notice of 17 April 2007

Why we have controls

Controls on these products are put in place to help prevent the introduction of animal diseases that could affect livestock and other animals. The controls are also to protect public health. Systems are in place to ensure that products intended for human and animal consumption are produced in conditions which meet good standards of hygiene.

Commercial Imports

All products of animal origin arriving from countries outside of the EU are subject to veterinary checks at the BIP. Stansted airport has an approved BIP for 'Packaged animal products for human consumption imported at ambient temperatures and packaged animals products not intended for human consumption imported at ambient temperatures' (its is not approve for chilled or frozen goods).

The consignments will be subject to documentary, identify and physical checks to ensure compliance with import conditions. All cleared consignments will be issued with a CVED (Common Veterinary Entry Document).

Documentary requirements

pdf icon Imported Food Inspection Charges 2016/17 [68kb] 

pdf icon Environmental Health fees and charges 2017/18 [69kb]

It is a legal requirement under the Trade in Animal and Related Products Regulations 2011 products must to notified to the OVS before the consignment arrives. When the consignment lands, it must be moved without delay by an authorised transport operator to the BIP. The person responsible for the load must complete part 1 of the CVED document.

The following documents must be submitted with the consignment:

Health Certificates

Health Certificates are obtained from the competent authority of the country of origin. They must contain specific information as detailed in EU Decisions and Directives. The general requirements for all health certificates are that it must;

  • Be the original copy (no photocopies will be accepted) 
  • Have a unique reference number 
  • Be fully completed 
  • Not have unauthorised alterations or be defaced in any way, i.e. no Tippex or crossings out 
  • Be drawn up in English 
  • Be made out to a single recipient 
  • Be signed by the OVS or equivalent representative of the competent Authority of the country of origin and have an official health stamp of the country of origin in a different colour to that of the printed ink. 
  • Be dated in relation to the date of loading of the products. 
  • Details of the address and approval numbers of the processing plant of origin.

Where Health certificates fail to comply with any of these requirements, the consignment will be refused entry.

Import Licences

The exportation of live animals and animal products such as meat, dairy goods, pet food and wool is the responsibility of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Defra is often required by the importing country's veterinary authorities to provide certain animal health, public health and animal welfare assurances. It does this by producing export documents - typically a veterinary health certificate. These certificates usually require a consignment to be inspected by a Defra-approved veterinarian shortly before export to confirm that the necessary assurances can be met.

The regulations that apply to a particular export vary widely. Factors such as the destination country, the species, the nature of the animal products and the intended use of the consignment all influence the conditions that must be met.

Because of the array of live animals and meat that can be exported, different regulations apply to different species. In most instances however, there are standards in place for the care, treatment and processing of animals. You can call the Defra Helpline on Telephone: 08459 33 55 77.

Businesses wishing to export live animals are responsible for:

  • conforming to the appropriate import conditions for their consignment with the authorities in the importing country - consignments that do not meet a country's import rules could be refused entry, returned or destroyed
  • allowing enough time for the certification process to be completed before the export takes place - it usually takes about ten days for a certificate to be produced and some require certain conditions to have been met for a month, or sometimes considerably longer, before departure
  • ensuring that their consignment meets any relevant UK rules, as well as those of the importing country

Application forms for export health certificates can be obtained from your local Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) office. You can locate your nearest AHVLA office by calling the Defra Helpline on Telephone: 08459 33 55 77.

Read information on the trade of animals and animal products within the European Union (EU) on the Defra website.

Find more information on live animal and meat exports in general on the Defra website.

Invoices/packing list

Invoices must relate to the consignment, be dated in relation to the date of despatch. It is advisable that the following information is included; Air Waybill number, consignee and consignor, details of species/types of product, net weight.

Vet charges

Please see the table linked to below, for inspection charges. We are required by EU legislation to make a charge for Veterinary checks. In addition to these charges, your consignment will be subject to handling costs levied by the BIP operator (Instone Air). These charges are outside the control of Uttlesford District Council.

pdf icon Imported Food Inspection Charges 2016/17 [68kb]

Consignments that fail the veterinary checks

Where a consignment fails the veterinary checks because it does not meet import requirements, it will be destroyed or re-dispatched outside of the EU, by a given date.

 If the Officers or OVS are not satisfied, then action is taken to prevent the food entering the country.

Further information on import controls are available from the DEFRA website at: and the Food Standards Agency at: 

Contact the Environmental Health department