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Importing And Exporting Food

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Friday 10th January 2020 No Comments »
Importing And Exporting Food


Importing food

Most food and drink products imported from the EU have no restrictions. Most regulations are for food and drink that are imported from countries outside the EU. In this case you may need:

  • Health certificates
  • Import licences

You must follow general export regulations.

Exporting food

You will have to research the food safety regulations in the countries you choose to export food to. Regulations can be different to those in the UK.

You can find information about the country you want to export to from:

  • Your local UK Trade and Investment Trade Team
  • Food and drink trade associations
  • Your local chamber of commerce

You must follow general export regulations.

Organic produce

How you import organic food depends on which country you are importing it from.

Imports from the EU

You can import organic produce from the EU as long as your supplier is registered with an EU organic certification body.

An organic certification body is an independent organisation that has standards for its members that meet or exceed government regulations.

Imports from outside the EU

You can import certain organic products from countries that are covered under ‘equivalence agreements’ – this means they have no import restrictions.

The countries that have equivalence agreements with the UK are:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Switzerland

Not all products will be covered by equivalence agreements. Call the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) helpline if you are unsure whether a product is covered by an agreement.

Defra Helpline
08459 335 577

For countries not covered by equivalence agreements, you must:

  • Apply for approval from Defra before importing
  • Be registered with an EU Organic Certification Body
  • Have a Certificate of Inspection for the food you want to import

Genetically Modified foods

Genetically Modified (GM) foods are not grown commercially in the UK. The GM foods you can import are varieties of the following:

  • Oilseed rape
  • Soybean
  • Cotton
  • Maize
  • Sugar beet

You can search for authorised GM foods on the European Commission website.

There is detailed guidance on labelling and other issues relating to GM foods from the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Food import controls

Certain foods are considered high risk and harmful to public health, eg if they cause illness. There are special rules and certificates that you may need to reduce this risk to public health when importing these goods.

As the foods that are considered harmful can change, you need to find out what the current import controls are from the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

At Bizorb we aim to provide the most accurate and up to date information to you. This article contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0. If you spot any errors in this article please let us know.

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