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Food Imports

Import of Food into Ireland from the UK when the UK leaves the EU


Food imports refer to the movement of food products into EU Member States (MS) from countries outside the EU. Food is free to move between MS without any additional controls as it complies with the same legislation, this is referred to an ‘intra-community trade’ or ‘trade’.When the UK leaves the EU, ‘intra-community trade’ will no longer apply to foods from the UK as it will be considered a third country (non EU country) and so any food coming from the UK will now be subject to import controls.

All food brought into the EU must comply in full with the general safety requirements of Regulation 178/2002. In addition, product specific legislation applies in the case of food being imported into the EU from a third country.

What are EU import controls on foods?

EU food import controls are checks on foods and food contact materials (FCM) at the point of entry into an EU member state. Import controls are a legal requirement of EU food law that ensures food safety and consumer protection. They are crucial in verifying compliance of food and related products with relevant food safety requirements and legislation. Import controls are also carried out on live animals, plants and products of animal or plant origin entering the EU market and so will have to be carried out on these products coming from the UK once they leave the EU.

What foods from the UK may be subject to import controls?

The following foods will be subject to import controls when the UK becomes a third country:

  • Animal products and food containing animal products e.g. meat, meat products, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products, honey etc. 
  • Food with no animal content, known as ‘products of non-animal origin’ e.g. fruit, vegetables, nuts, spices, certain bakery products, mineral water, fruit juices etc.
  • Composite foods (i.e. food containing both processed ingredients of animal and plant origin 
Non-Animal Origin        Guidance on importing food products of non-animal origin
Animal Origin  Guidance on importing food products of animal origin

Last reviewed: 16/4/2019

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