The USA is the UK’s biggest customer in terms of food and animal product exports – the market for this sector was worth approximately £287 million in 2015. Given the continuing uncertainty over ‘Brexit’, it is more important than ever to maintain and increase sales to the USA.
Many food items and products of animal origin will require an ‘Export Health Certificate’ or EHC, signed by an official veterinary surgeon (OV). There are currently around 37 different EHCs available, which cover the following commodities:-
It should be noted that meat exports are currently limited to pork and pig meat from approved premises only. Poultry/beef/lamb exports to the USA are currently banned. Strict hygiene and origin requirements must be met as well as freedom from certain diseases.
Dairy products can originate in any country with UK equivalent standards and the species of origin must be stated. The countries must be free from foot and mouth disease and rinderpest (cattle plague – now considered eliminated). Some products eg hard cheese, are exempt.
A full list of products is outwith the scope of this blog, please contact us for further information.
The import conditions are set by APHIS (animal and plant health inspection service), a division of the USDA (United States department of agriculture). They are set out in chapter 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
An import permit may be required for certain products. The importer or their agent, who must normally be a US citizen/company, would usually apply for this.
The permit lists the conditions that must be met on the EHC. The permit is normally valid for multiple shipments within 12 months. Remember it is in American date format ie MM/DD/YYYY.
The EHC application process is different from most other countries, in that the final EHC is actually signed by a full time employed Veterinary Officer at the Centre for International Trade in Carlisle, rather than by the official vet who has inspected the goods. The process is explained step by step below.
Any manufacturer declarations (mandecs) must be worded correctly and include the phrase “ I am aware that is is an offence to give a false declaration”. The person signing must have reasonable knowledge that what they are signing is correct and must be on the approved list of signatories held by APHA, who can and do follow up on mandecs to check their validity.
Steps are being taken to resume the export of beef and lamb to the USA and it is hoped this may resume in the near future
A lot will also depends on any free trade agreements post Brexit – the USA president has made some positive noises, although it remains to be seen if this results in any action.