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The regulations which govern the import of food and feed products and live animals into the UK are extensive and complex. Where live animals, products of animal origin and high risk foods are concerned, the necessary documents, checks and procedures importers must comply with are even greater, as are the penalties if you do not comply.
The regulators for imports are the local authority where the port is located, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Food Standards Agency depending on what is being imported. They have a number of different enforcement powers including:
- Detention of the consignment
- Notices requiring the re-export of the consignment, the destruction of the consignment, or some remedial action or use of the consignment for other purposes where permitted.
Most enforcement notices can be appealed to the Magistrates Court. Where the consignment includes products of animal origin, some notices in respect of those items can only be challenged by way of Judicial Review to the High Court. As in the case of any challenge against enforcement notices, the deadlines to appeal are short and therefore time is always of the essence.
It is very important to ensure you have all the relevant paperwork and have notified the relevant agency before importing your consignment, as not doing so is considered smuggling and is only one of many offences you can be prosecuted for if imports are not carried out correctly.
For the import of live animals and any product of animal origin, there are additional requirements including the need for health certificates and sometimes physical checks of consignments by a veterinarian to ensure that animal welfare requirements have been complied with and that any product is fit for human or animal consumption as the case may be.
Our Regulatory team has recognised expertise in advising clients in the food sector and challenging enforcement action and prosecutions by regulators. If you have imported food or feed and are experiencing issues with or enforcement by the regulator, please contact our Regulatory team who will be happy to help.