Certain products when brought into the UK from a third country (outside the EU) are subject to special controls at the port. These rules apply whether it is for your own use, to sell or use within your own restaurant. These rules are in place to protect human and animal health and consumer choice.
Initially these rules were applied to food and feed, however, more recently they have been extended to cover materials that come into contact with food such as plastic kitchenware. There are general rules that apply to all imports and others that are applied to specific products that have been determined to present a particular risk.
Because some of the controls are very specialist EC legislation has restricted the ports where these imports can be made. You need to check the import conditions to make sure that controlled products are imported through an approved port. Suffolk Coastal Port Health are responsible for controlling imports of food through the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and feed imports through Felixstowe and Ipswich. Essex County Council are responsible for feed imports through Harwich.
There is a general law which requires that all food on sale in the UK is safe to eat. However, for certain products that are known to present a risk to public or animal health there are additional rules that must be complied with at import. If consignments are not imported in compliance with these rules they could be destroyed at the importers cost.
Port Health Officers (specialist Environmental Health Officers) and Official Veterinary Surgeons (specialist vets) carry out checks at the ports/ borders to make sure that food imported into the UK from outside Europe is safe to eat and that import conditions have been met.
Away from the border, food safety checks are carried out in food premises e.g. shops and restaurants by Environmental Health Officers. Trading Standards Officers may also carry out checks to ensure that food standards are being met.