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Importing food from the EU

England and Wales specific
Information on EU member states, food establishments selling products of animal origin and considerations for importing fishery products.
Last updated

EU Member States

A full list of EU member states that have freed trade between them is available online. Please note that the whole Island of Cyprus is considered to be within EU territory. In principle, foodstuffs from 'Northern' Cyprus should have passed via 'Southern' Cyprus and consequently be considered to be Union goods.

All food products, produced or imported into the country, must be fit for human consumption and must meet the general food safety requirements of General Food Law Regulation 178/2002

In general, this prohibits food being placed on the market if it is unsafe, that is if it is either:

  • injurious to health
  • unfit for human consumption

Food brought into GB must meet Regulations introduced under the Food Safety Act. Food businesses must apply Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) based procedures. The HACCP system is a tool for food business operators to control hazards in food.

Food (including that of animal origin, food not of animal origin, and food containing both products of plant origin and processed products of animal origin) brought into GB must comply with the requirements of Commission Regulation No 852/2004. This is to ensure that food under your control has satisfied the relevant hygiene requirements at all stages of production, processing and distribution. 

Food placed on the GB market can be checked by local authorities for compliance with food safety and hygiene standards, whether it is produced in the UK or from a third country. In GB, food safety and food standards checks are carried out by qualified environmental health practitioners and trading standards officers employed by local authorities. Non-compliant food products can be removed from the food chain.

You will find general information about food labelling on GOV.UK website.

For advice on the labelling of specific products, please contact your local authority’s Trading Standards Department or Environmental Health Department

If you intend to set up a business in the UK to sell food, that activity has to be registered under Regulation No 852/2004. You will need to get in touch with the environmental health office of the local authority where you intend to set up your business. They are in the best position to determine whether legislation applies according to individual circumstances. 

Further guidance on food hygiene requirements and how to set up a food business.

Food establishments selling products of animal origin

There are strict rules within GB for selling any foods that are or that contain any POAO. Among other requirements, this will require certification of the product and the third country and third country establishement that produce the product being listed in GB for importation of that commodity into GB.

Please contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to confirm that the third country establishment supplying you is fully licensed for distributing: 

  • red meat 
  • meat products -including sausages, meat pizzas, meat pies) 
  • dairy products -including milk, butter, cheese, yoghurt, cream) 
  • eggs 
  • poultry meat 
  • wild game 
  • insects
  • grubs 
  • unusual meat -including reptiles, alligators 
  • honey 

Food hygiene 

For general enquiries on food hygiene please contact the Food Hygiene Policy team by email.

Fishery products

We provide business guidance on importing fishery products and bivalve molluscs from third countries on our website.

The Fish Health Inspectorate at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), provides information on importing live fish intended for human consumption from third countries on their website.

Contaminants

A guidance note on the Contaminants in Food (England) Regulations 2013, which make provisions for enactment and enforcement of Commission Regulations setting regulatory limits for contaminants in food (nitrate, mycotoxins, metals, 3-MCPD, dioxins and PAHs), can be found online.

Team contacts

Food hygiene policy 
foodhygiene.policy@food.gov.uk