The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) voted today [Friday] in favour of a Commission proposal to tighten up the rules on personal imports of meat and milk products.

Travellers arriving in the EU from certain third countries will no longer be allowed to bring in personal imports of meat, meat products, milk or milk products, on their person or in their luggage, unless accompanied by official veterinary documentation. The proposal will now be formally adopted by the Commission and will enter into force on 1 January 2003.

David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, said: “This is a sensible measure which bolsters our protection against the import of products which, if infected, may give rise to serious animal diseases. With the FMD [foot and mouth disease] crisis still fresh in all of our minds, and with the ongoing problems of Classical Swine Fever, it is right that we take all necessary precautions to prevent further possible outbreaks of disease.

“But tightening the rules is only one side of the coin,” he continued. “It is equally important that we get the message across to travellers entering the European Union and also the candidate countries. We are therefore launching an awareness campaign, which will include a poster to be made available in over 30 languages, to ensure that passengers are aware of the new rules, and the reasons behind them, before they travel as well as during their journey.”

The proposal will suspend existing derogations to the import conditions and frontier controls that are granted for meat, milk and derived products brought by travellers for their private consumption or sent to private persons, and sets up an awareness campaign to alert the travelling public to the new rules.

Travellers will, however, be allowed to bring in powdered infant milk, infant food and special foods required for medical reasons provided that (i) the product does not require refrigeration before consumption; (ii) it is a packaged proprietary brand product; and (iii) the packaging of the product is unbroken.

The import of any other personal consignments of meat, meat products, milk or milk products will only be permitted subject to declaration of the goods on arrival together with the necessary official veterinary documentation, that is to say, the same conditions as for commercial imports.

The new rules do not apply to products carried by travellers arriving from Greenland, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the candidate countries with the exception of Turkey.