Working with the Port Health Authorities

Inspection of goods by port health authorities


Port health authorities' controls vary according to the level of risk an import is likely to pose. If port health authorities have concerns about your consignment they can detain it at the port for inspection or sampling to make sure that it's safe to eat. Certain goods are excluded from the European Union (EU) as they present a known risk to human or animal health. Other high-risk products are required to pass though the port to undergo checks.

Monitoring of imports is usually carried out by checking the manifest. This is carried out via the Port Community System where available. In ports where there's not sufficient access to pre-arrival information you may be asked to provide details of all food imports to the port health office either electronically or by fax.

If the information on the manifest is ambiguous you'll need to provide a copy of the invoice and Bill of Lading or similar to indicate the exact nature of your goods. For certain products you may be asked to provide a list of ingredients, so that officers can check the exact composition. Your goods may be detained until this information is received.

There are also controls on additives such as colourings and sweeteners, checks for microbiological safety, labelling, genetically modified ingredients and novel ingredients. You can find out about the range of food import checks.

High-risk food not of animal origin (FNAO)

FNAO from certain countries is classed as high risk due to the likelihood of contamination. This includes:

  • peanuts, pistachios and dried fruits from Egypt, China, Iran and Turkey which may be contaminated with aflatoxins
  • mushrooms and wild berries from Ukraine and other countries in the region which may be contaminated with radiocaesium

These products must be imported at specific ports to undergo checks. The restrictions also apply to foods containing controlled composite products such as pistachio halva and peanut brittle.

You can find the list of designated points of entry.

Products of animal origin (POAO)

These products are considered high-risk and must be accompanied by specific documentation to demonstrate that health conditions have been met.

Imports must:

  • be from an EU-approved country
  • be from an EU-approved establishment
  • come with a health certificate

Read more about products of animal origin.

View a list of approved establishments for POAO.

  • Food Standards Agency Helpline
    020 7276 8829