UK law revisions toughen up import rules

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union, Food standards agency

UK regulations relating to food and feed imports are being
toughened up under new revisions submitted for public comment

The revision would give revenue and customs officials the legal right to withhold consignments of non-animal origin pending inspection by local or port health authorities. The change could mean processors will face delays in receiving their supplies if officials suspect there is a food safety problem. The revisions to the law for imports of non-animal origin from outside the EU would allow more cooperation between customs officials and port health inspectors, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) stated. "This cooperation is particularly important in relation to 'high-risk' products which are subject to specific safeguard or emergency control measures in feed and food law,"​ the FSA stated. "The policy aim is that where consignments of such 'high-risk' products are not presented for official control but are declared for customs purposes, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is able to withhold clearance and bring the consignments to the attention of the relevant local or port health authority."​ In order for HMRC to withhold clearance of consignments, pending inspection by local port authorities, the law will also include a prohibition against imports of feeds and foods that do not meet EU law. The original prohibition was on the individual importing of goods. The loophole is being closed by replacing it with a prohibition on the act of importing the goods, rather than the individual. "The regulations nevertheless provide that an individual introducing or importing the goods commits an offence by virtue of the offence provision at regulation 39(1)(b such that local and port health authorities may still take action where appropriate,"​ the FSA stated. The new rules will be part of a complete overhaul of the current official Feed and Food Controls (England) Regulations 2006, work currently being done by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Similar regulations already exist for importing products of animal origin. The FSA will also update the legislation to reflect slight changes made to the EU's food safety directive. The new revisions amend proposals originally submitted for public comment earlier this year. The deadline for comments on the new revisions is 21 September.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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