§ Ms Blears
I am advised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that the import of chicken from countries outside the European Union is the subject of strict legislation. Chicken must be slaughtered and processed in countries and premises to meet food safety standards at least equivalent to those required within the EU. In addition, it has to meet quality standards required by European Community Marketing Regulations. Third countries must carry out checks on premises to ensure that the required standards are maintained, and take action to deal with failing establishments. The EU also monitors establishments in third countries and can take action to deal with individual establishments or a country that fails to exert appropriate checks and controls.
Chicken from third countries can only be imported into the EU through designated border inspection posts following prior notification. It is subject to 100 per cent., documentary and identity checks and prescribed levels of physical checks, according to the type of product and country of origin.
Chicken produced in another EU member states can be traded freely with other member states and is not subject to routine checks at United Kingdom ports. However, the hygiene and quality standards are enforced by each member state. In the UK, these checks are carried out by local authorities.
§ Ms Blears
I am advised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which has responsibility for food safety matters, that the European Union operates a strict system of controls on imports of products of animal origin from countries outside the EU. All products of animal origin must be pre-notified and presented to a border inspection post. Consignments are subject to 687W 100 per cent., documentary and identity checks and physical checks at a level prescribed by the EU, according to the country of origin and type of product. Products not of animal origin can enter the United Kingdom from third countries, through any sea or airport and are subject to checks, according to the type of product and the country of origin and any rules in place in the EU.
The FSA is working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise on imported food issues, as part of a cross-government action plan to further improve enforcement and control of illegal imports. Co-ordination arrangements between the FSA, HM Customs and Excise and Defra are being strengthened to achieve a step-change improvement in controls on the illegal import of meat. HM Customs and Excise is taking the lead responsibility for detection of smuggled imports of meat.