Mersey Port Health Authority is responsible for Food imported into the UK/Europe from non-EU countries as regulated under UK and EU legislation. The responsibility for regulating imports lies with the Food Standards Agency and DEFRA. Enforcement of the rules is carried out by the Port Health Authority. The controls can be broadly split into those carried out on Products Of Animal Origin (POAO) and Food Not of Animal Origin (FNAO).
POAO - Animal health controls apply to these products, which include meat and poultry meat, meat products and other products of animal origin such as hides, skins, eggs, milk and dairy products, animal fats, offal, bones, fishmeal, bristle and game trophies.
Imports are controlled through a system of checks aimed at making sure that the products meet Community standards in terms of animal and public health. This system of checks is commonly referred to as the veterinary checks regime. Checks are carried out at Border Inspection Posts (BIPs), designated points of entry into the Community.
Consignments of products of animal origin cannot be removed from the BIP until all veterinary checks have been completed and any fees required, paid.
FNAO - Public and Plant health controls apply to any goods intended for sale for human consumption and impose safety in terms of microbiological and chemical safety as well as marketing and other food standards such as labelling and composition. Some high risk products are subject to special controls that set out import conditions and include pistachios, peanuts and chilli powder.
The Official Feed and Food Controls (England) Regulations 2009 give effect to the EU Regulation 882/2004 in England only. The Regulations give PHOs/EHOs powers to perform official controls, which could include inspecting, sampling and detaining suspicious food consignments. Powers are also given to take action to control consignments that do not comply with import conditions or are unsafe to eat. Where consignments are found to be non-compliant a legal notice can be served requiring the re-export (outside the EU), destruction, processing or alternative use.
HIGH RISK FOODS - Food business operators are required to pre-notify the Authority of the arrival of "high risk" consignments and will have to present these in order that the necessary official controls can be undertaken.
A high risk product is defined as feed or food that is either known to be, or is an emerging risk to animal or public health. This may be due to the presence of contaminants / undesirable substances or other feed and food safety hazards. Port Health Officers will carry out documentary, identity and physical checks on high risk products as appropriate.
Further information on High Risk Foods can be found at http://www.food.gov.uk/foodindustry/imports/
ORGANIC PRODUCTS - All organic produce imported into the UK must be accompanied by the correct documentation to allow the Authority to verify your shipment and for it to be allowed into free circulation.
The key regulation when importing organic products into the UK from countries outside the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area requires that a Certificate of Inspection (CoI) be produced by the inspection body in the third country from which your imported goods originate. This certificate enables our Inspectors to check and verify the provenance of such consignments and endorse.
Read more on the DEFRA Organic Imports webpage