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Importing Food into the UK for Personal Use - Be Aware of the Restrictions

By 1st January 2016

Fruit and veg can be safely and legally imported to the UK for personal use from EU countries.

Are you thinking of importing food into the UK for personal use? It is important that you first read up on the restrictions imposed by the Government and Food Standards Agency. Here we will provide a brief overview of the restrictions, to help you get a better idea of what is and is not allowed.

Importing food to the UK from the EU

If the food you are importing to the UK is coming from a country with the EU, then you should have little trouble. According to the regulations, you can bring any fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and other animal products like fish, eggs and honey into the UK.

The EU countries you can import food to the UK for personal use from are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (including Azores and Madeira), Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Importing good to the UK from non EU countries

Restrictions on food imports to the UK for personal use are in place to prevent the spread of diseases like FMD, which can have a detrimental effect on livestock, crops and human health.

The restrictions ban people from being able to import certain foods from non-EU countries to the UK for personal use. These foods include all meat and meat products, all milk and dairy products and potatoes.

Whilst other foods like fruit and vegetables and fish can be imported from non-EU countries to the UK for personal use, there are a number of restriction that apply. One of the restrictions is that you cannot import more than 2kg total weight of fruit, vegetables, eggs, egg products or honey. No more than 20kg of fish, bivalves or fish products can be imported for personal use and the fish must be gutted if fresh or processed.

These restrictions apply whether you are carrying food in your suitcase after travelling to another country or having them sent by post.

Why are their restrictions in place?

The Government and Food Standards Agency have good reasons for imposing restrictions on importing food into the UK for personal use. Diseases like Food and Mouth Disease (often shortened to FMD) and Bird Flu can be bought into the country via animal products, particularly those containing meat or milk, which is why they are banned from non-EU countries. Another risk of food imports from non-EU countries is that vegetables and fruit can be infected with pests. Both diseases and pests carried on imported food can have a devastating effect on British livestock, crops and the environment as a whole.

The UK experienced such devastation back in 2001, when the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak cost an estimated three billion pounds.
Animal-related products can also put people’s health at risk from diseases and contaminates. It is important to take extra precaution when importing things like fish and honey, making sure you stick to the regulations.

Conclusion

When importing food to the UK for personal use, it is important that you understand the regulations that apply to specific products. It is also essential that you are aware of the general rules that apply to the labelling of food imports. Failure to comply with the regulations could result in a delivery delay or in some cases the enforcement authorities may be required to take action. If in doubt about a certain food import, it is always best to contact the Food Standards Agency or the delivery company you intend to use for advice.

Here at Pharos Parcel we welcome handling of food parcels, but please always let us know if you are in doubt about a parcel so we can check it actually complies with UK and foreign legislation, which is designed to protect us all.