Japan lifts the ban on imports of Danish beef after other EU Member States

On 2 February 2016, Japan lifted its long-term ban on Danish beef based on an alleged risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). The decision on products from Denmark follows an earlier opening of the Japanese market to beef products from France, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Poland.

Japan introduced an import ban on beef from the EU in 2001, referring to a risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). This measure went beyond the international standards set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and did not take into account the stringent control and surveillance measures in place in the European Union guaranteeing the safety of European beef and beef products.

Commissioners Andriukaitis, Malmström and Hogan, responsible respectively for trade, agriculture and food safety, agree that “it is good news that Japan continues to approve beef exports from EU Member States. We look forward to seeing Japan open its market to remaining EU Member States in the near future. All Commission services, together with the EU Delegation to Japan, are working towards opening the Japanese market for EU beef and beef products for all those Member States that are interested in exporting”.

This is also an encouraging signal for those EU Member States that have also applied to export beef, and whose equally high level of food safety has been internationally recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Exports of beef and beef products from the EU to Japan resumed in 2013. The exports from the first 4 authorised Member States were worth €4.6 million in the first half of 2015. For Danish beef exports to effectively resume, Denmark will now need to designate the exporting establishments.

(Source: DG Sante)

QeA to EU Commission – Animal welfare and export of live animals to third countries

Question for written answer to the Commission – Marlene Mizzi (S&D) – 30th March 2015

Subject:  Export of live animals to countries outside Europe

When EU animals are exported live to countries outside the EU they are no longer protected by European animal welfare law. Investigations by Compassion in World Farming into slaughter in the Middle East have shown that animals are beaten and tied up and have their throats stabbed and hacked at while they are fully conscious.

Can the Commission clarify what measures have been taken to protect exported animals against abuse and cruel treatment in countries outside the EU?

Is the Commission considering taking urgent action to stop this animal trade?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 11th June 2015

The Commission is aware of the ongoing debate on issues concerning slaughterhouses in the Middle East and is taking this matter seriously.

The Commission has brought this issue to the attention of the Chief Veterinary Officers of the Member States. Furthermore, the Commission organised the first multi-beneficiary Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) workshop on welfare practices at the time of slaughter in Beirut in March 2015. The workshop aimed to address the information pointing towards serious failures by slaughterhouses in meeting international OIE guidelines and standards on welfare at the time of slaughter. Experts from the EU and other countries, including from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), presented information and shared experiences in best practice for slaughter with participants from Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Algeria.

The Commission is not considering banning exports of live animals. However, according to a recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (1) in case of a long journey of animals with destination in a third country, the organiser of the journey must submit to the competent authorities of the place of departure a realistic journey log which indicates that the provisions of the EU Regulation (2) on the protection of animals during transport will be complied with, including in the stages of the journey taking place outside the EU. The Commission is currently studying the judgment to assess its practical implications.

(1) Judgment in Case C-424/13 Zuchtvieh-Export

(2) Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations; OJ L 3, 5.1.2005, p. 1.

(Source: EU Parliament website)