Food labelling and packaging for export and import

Food handling and safety: checklist for importers


You are responsible for ensuring that all food products are fit for human consumption and not harmful to human or animal health. You can read more about food hygiene and trade in food hygiene and the law. The following checklist will help you ensure that any food products you plan to import into Northern Ireland meet the required standards.

  • Do you have the names, addresses and other contact details of your suppliers?
  • Have you ensured that food handling and hygiene procedures at the place of origin comply with EU standards? See import conditions.
  • Do your products comply with the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system?
  • Can you ensure traceability of your products in the event of any problems? Is there a robust audit trail documenting the movement and handling of your goods?
  • If you are importing products of animal origin (POAOs) from outside the EU, do they have a health certificate, and are they from an approved establishment in an approved country?
  • Do you need to have any food samples tested, chemically or microbiologically, to make sure they comply with food safety requirements? This is a legal requirement for certain high risk products and it can provide reassurance that it is safe to import other specific food products.
  • Is your chosen outer packaging robust enough to protect your food products against damage, contamination and other problems for the full length of their transit journey?
  • Does your outer packaging carry all the information necessary to identify your goods, including the name and address of the supplier, the nature of the consignment and the country of origin?
  • Does the manufacturer or freight forwarder transporting your goods comply with food handling and safety procedures? For instance, you may want to check that they are not over-fumigating the goods or that refrigerated vehicles keep food at the right temperature. see food safety and pesticides.
  • Does the information given on the sales packaging comply with the relevant EU legislation? Does it include an ingredients list and, where applicable, additional information such as Quantitative Ingredient Declarations (QUIDs) and best-before or use-by dates and/or warning information? You can have this checked by a public analyst to ensure that it complies.
  • Does your type of food require any extra checks? See the FSA guidance on imports and exports.
  • Do you need an import licence? Some foods are banned, restricted or subject to quota. Such licences in the UK are issued by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). See import and export Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) goods.
  • Have you allowed for paying import duty and VAT, as well as CAP levies and tariff quotas for your goods on entry into Northern Ireland?