Standard customs declaration proposed for imported foods

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Eu Member states European union

The EU would create standard customs' documentation for imported
food and feeds under current legislative proposals being discussed
by member states.

In an update of proposals being developed by an EU working group made up of member states' representatives, the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the group had reached a general agreement on the creation of a Common Entry Document (CED). Several member states, including the UK, expressed "strong reservations" about making it a legal and mandatory requirement to complete and issue the CEDs through an already existing EU tracing system. At this stage as the system has yet to be shown to be working effectively for checks on products of animal origin, the FSA stated. The changes were proposed at the working group's last meeting on 19 March. The next one is scheduled by 7 May. Most member states appear to support the flexible approach that requires documentary checks to be carried out at the first point of arrival on EU, the FSA reported. The proposed legislation also allows members to designate points inland to which consignments may be transported. A separate clause requires inspectors to apply official controls and where identity and physical checks can be carried out and consignments released for free circulation. There is as yet no firm agreement on what these designated points will be called or on what facilities must be available at the designated points where identity and physical check must be carried out, the FSA stated. The working group is considering proposed rules on imported foods and feeds of non-animal origin first formulated by the Commission. The rules would establish a list of products deemed to need higher regulatory scrutiny at the EU's borders. Such "high risk" foods could include supplies such as imported​ peanuts, pistachios, and dried fruits from Egypt, China, Iran​ and Turkey, countries frequently cited for allowing high levels of aflatoxins in their products. The proposals are set out in a European Commission document that is in the process of being discussed at the national level among EU members. The EU document deals with implementing rules under Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls for "high-risk" food and feed products of non-animal origin imported from outside the bloc. The Commission wants to establish a list of 'high-risk' foods that would be subject to an increased level of scrutiny. Importers would have to provide more documentation ahead of the arrival of such foods. Specific ports of entry would be designated where such foods could enter the EU. The Commission also wants importers to pay special fees to cover the additional cost regulators would bear in dealing with the "high risk" foods and feeds. Recent discussions at the EU level indicate that information gathered from a variety of sources may be used to determine inclusion on the list. The Commission plans to adopt the implementing rules in June or July of this year, the FSA stated. In 2005, the EU's rapid alert system received a total of 947 notifications from regulators on aflatoxins. A total of 498 of the notifications related to pistachio nuts, primarily originating from Iran. Aflatoxins were also regularly reported in peanuts and derived products (219 notifications) originating from China (79), Brazil (32), Argentina (22) and Ghana (14). Within the group of nuts and nut products, 64 notifications concern hazelnuts and derived products originating from Turkey (53) and Azerbaijan (11). A total of 33 notifications concern almonds and derived products, primarily originating from the US (28). Within the group of fruits and vegetables, 48 notifications concern dried figs and derived products primarily originating from Turkey (46). Another 13 notifications relate to melon seeds primarily originating from Nigeria (10). Within the group of herbs and spices, chilli (27), paprika (10), curry (4) and nutmeg (4), were also stopped at the border for high aflatoxin levels. The products originated primarily from India (27) and to a lesser extent from Turkey (5) and Pakistan (5). Due to the ongoing problem with Iran the European Commission cracked down on imports from the country and put in place new measures. All consignments from the country are required to be analysed twice, the first time prior to export by Iran's regulators and the second time prior to import by the EU member state.

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