Community legislation covers the production and placing on the market of products of animal origin
intended for human consumption. 'Placing on the market' means the holding of food in the Community
for the purpose of sale, including offering for sale, or any other form of transfer, whether free
of charge or not, and the sale, distribution or other forms of transfer. In this context, "trade"
refers solely to the movement of such products between European Union (EU) Member States. Imports
refer solely to the movement of such products into the Member States from third countries outside the EU.
When produced in the Community and traded between Member States, products of animal origin intended for
human consumption must fulfil the public health requirements laid down in a number of
These Directives, which have been amended several times, harmonise the rules for placing such
products on the market and establish the public health guarantees needed for marketing them.
The objective of this harmonisation is to guarantee that the same requirements
are applied for marketing throughout the Member States to ensure the safe and
free circulation of the products throughout the EU;
The Directives lay down precise rules to be respected for the production of
these products to ensure that only foodstuffs not harmful to human health
are placed on the market;
Traceability is of prime importance for consumer protection, as food
scares in the past have demonstrated. Regulation EC N° 178/2002
(applicable from 1 January 2005) sets out the general provisions for
identifying suppliers at every stage of production;
Because there are no border controls for movements between Member States,
non-discriminatory spot checks are carried out at the point of origin and
at the destination according to Directive N° 89/662/EEC to ensure that
consignments are in compliance with the guarantees in relation to public health.
When imported, products of animal origin must in general fulfil both
and public health requirements laid down in Community legislation. This legislation
imposes a series of health and supervisory requirements designed to ensure that products
meet standards at least equivalent to those required for production in and trade between
Member States. In a few areas where no harmonising legislation exists, third countries should
make contact with Member State authorities to obtain information on national import conditions.
From a general point of view, to be imported, a product of animal origin intended for human consumption
must come from:
a third country or part of a third country appearing on a list of countries authorised
to export to the EU; or
an establishment that has been placed on a list of approved establishments to export
to the EU.
It must be accompanied by a harmonised health certificate.
More information on the procedure to be followed can be found in this document:
General guidance for third country authorities on the procedures to be followed when
importing live animals and animal products into the European Union.