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Trade, import and export

The purpose of food control is to provide consumers with food that is safe and meets all the appropriate requirements. This is made possible by assuring the conformity of the food-chain as a whole – from producing raw material for food until the moment it become available for the consumer. From the other hand, a consumer should be given sufficient and authenticated information on food that allows him/her to make the appropriate choices.
 
In Estonia the food sphere (incl. handling of raw material for food and food, self-control of a food handling operator and governmental supervision) is regulated by the Food Act and Directive of the European Parliament and the European Council 178/2002/EEC, establishing general legal principles and requirements in food area, founding European Food Safety Administration and establishing the procedures, connected with food safety. The food sphere is, in addition to the Food Act and its implementing acts, regulated by numerous other laws and regulations and the EU legislation that is directly applicable. More specific references to the legislation, regulations of the Government of the Republic and ministers and the EU legislation is given in the section dealing with legal acts.
 
As provided by the Food Act, food control or governmental supervision shall be performed in Estonia by the Veterinary and Food Board, the Health Protection Inspectorate, the Estonian Consumer Protection Board and the Estonian Tax and Customs Board.
As provided by law, the Veterinary and Food Board is to perform supervision of all the spheres of handling and materials and items, specified in Article 1 (2) of the Regulation of the European Parliament and the European Council No. 35/2004/EC.
 
Main obligations of food and feedingstuffs handling operators, established by the European Commission, are derived from the requirements for assuring the safety of food and feedingstuffs (PDF).
 
Restrictions on import
 

The principles of restrictions on import of animals and animal products from third countries are as following:
If any animal disease is appearing or spreading on the territory of a third country or in case of any other phenomenon or circumstances that may constitute danger for animal or human health, the European Commission will take one of the following measures on its own initiative or on the basis of the application of the Member State, depending on the severity of the situation:

1. Import and transit from the whole territory or from the part of the third country will be stopped,
2. Special requirements will be established for products coming from the whole territory or the part of the third country,
3. On the basis of real finds supervisory requirements are being compiled, containing specific studies of the hazards to animal or human health and the frequency of physical control is regulated on the basis of the results of the control.

If it becomes clear during such control that the production batch may occur dangerous for animal or human health, authorised veterinary administration will take following measures immediately:
- The noted batch will be stopped and destroyed,
- Other border checkpoints and the European Commission will be immediately informed about the findings and about the origin of the products.

If in the country or the area of origin of the imported animals or animal products an infectious animal disease, zoonosis or other disease is spreading that is endangering animal or human health, which is certified as internationally compulsorily notifiable disease, the Director General of Veterinary and Food Board has the right to stop immediately the import of animals and animal products from the noted country or area or restrict the further use of animals or animal products. Established restrictions are being published on the homepage of Veterinary and Food Board and the authorised body of the noted country will be informed about the restrictions.

Special import Conditions

Restrictions on trade

In trade with animals and animal products between the Member States following restrictions may be established:

- Every Member State has to inform the other Member States and the Commission immediately about the spreading of a disease on its territory or any other reasons, which may probably seriously endanger animal or human health;
- The Member States of origin will immediately take the measures of control or precaution, established in the instructions of the Community;
- A Member State of destination or of transit, identifying the presence of the previously noted diseases or reasons, may take precautionary measures, noted in the instructions, if necessary.

Until the establishment of these measures the Member State of destination may take temporary protection measures in case of serious danger for human or animal health, informing the Commission and the other Member States immediately.

Veterinary and Food Board informs the international veterinary organisations, The European Commission, the authorised administrations of the Member States and the neighbour states of Estonia about the spread of an internationally compulsorily notifiable disease and about either establishing or stopping restrictions in the field of infectious animal disease control.

Veterinary and Food Board will immediately take control measures in case of danger, established in Infectious Animal Disease Control Act and in Infectious Disease Control instructions, created on the basis of the Act or in the absence of these the international control measures or control measures, established in the legal acts of the European Union. First of all buffer zones determined in the legal acts are being determined and other necessary measures for obstruction of the spread of the infectious animal diseases are taken.

Last updated: 6 June 2019