Diseases don’t respect borders


<div>Evira and the Customs are reminding the public of the import regulations during the EU Veterinary Week 10.–16.11.2008.</div>

Importing food of animal origin and live animals is always connected with a risk of infectious diseases, which could seriously harm the agriculture of the area, food production and the safety of the consumers and their pets. In order to prevent the spread of diseases within the EU, common rules are adhered to regarding what the travellers coming into the EU area can bring with them and what they can order in the mail.

In Finland the EU campaign is carried out by Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira and the Customs, for example by distributing information on import regulations at border crossings and by handing out information about the regulations and the importance of adhering to them to travellers at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Campaign material and information is also published on the internet pages of Evira and Customs.

Which foods can be imported and from where?

The import of meat and meat products and milk and dairy products from countries outside the EU into the EU area without a veterinary border inspection is mainly prohibited. Importing these products from the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, however is less restricted than from other countries outside the EU.

Meat and dairy products can be imported for personal consumption from Andorra, Norway and San Marino, in a similar fashion to the EU countries.

Otherwise, the traveller can import a maximum of 1 kg each of fishery products, bird eggs, egg products, honey, frog’s legs and snails for their own consumption without veterinary border inspection. In addition, 15 kg of fresh fish or one fish weighing 15 kg is allowed to be imported from Russia.

Pet foods containing raw materials or products of animal origin, are not allowed to be imported at all.

The goal of the food import regulations is to prevent the spread of infectious animal diseases into the EU. Animal diseases spread with food, such as meat, are for example foot and mouth disease and classical swine fever, which cause high fatalities when spread to production animals, cause animal suffering and considerable economic losses.

Import of a pet from another country

The import regulations for live animals depend on the country of origin and the animal disease situation there. By having import restrictions for cats and dogs, we are trying to prevent the spread to Finland of rabies and the echinococcus parasite, which are also dangerous to humans. Those travelling with animals have to make sure that the animal has identification, antiparasitic medication, a rabies vaccination and when necessary, a rabies neutralising antibody titration. The documentation also has to be in order. An animal imported in contravention to the import regulations is a risk to humans and to other animals. It will be returned to the country of departure at its owner's cost, or even euthanized.

Customs protects the consumers

The Customs monitors the import of food of animal origin and live animals at the border. The Customs seizes batches of up to about twenty kilos annually of for example Vietnamese crustaceans, Nigerian fish and Turkish sausages from luggage.

According to the Customs’ statistics, even this year tens of kilos of food of animal origin from for example China, Vietnam and Korea, USA and Canada and from several African countries has been seized from postal parcels and destroyed.

Further information:

The EU campaign:

For additional information, please contact:
Senior Officer Tarja Lehtonen, Evira, tel. 020 77 24219 or 040 562 5635 (import of food of animal origin)
Senior Officer Virva Valle, Evira, tel. 020 77 24309 (importation of dogs and cats)

Mika Pitkäniemi, Customs, tel. 020 492 3810

Campaign video:

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