STC Number - 351

EU temperature treatment requirements for imports of processed meat products

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: Russian Federation
Supported by:
First date raised: June 2013 G/SPS/R/71, paras 4.1-4.2
Dates subsequently raised: March 2014 (G/SPS/R/74, paras. 3.21-3.22)
July 2014 (G/SPS/R/75, paras. 4.23-4.24)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/1328
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2013, Russia raised concerns about the EU requirement that bovine and porcine meat products be heat-treated to 80 degrees Celsius and asked that the European Union bring its requirements in line with international standards, which only required heat-treatment to 70 degrees Celsius. Russia urged the European Union to finalize the legislative process under way that would bring the EU requirements into line with OIE recommendations.
The European Union noted that it was free from African swine fever (ASF, except for one island) and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), both of which occur in Russia. The heat-treatment requirement of 80 degrees Celsius was applied to prevent the introduction of both diseases via the import of animal products. The request of Russia to use heat treatment to 70 degrees Celsius for a minimum of 30 minutes for previously deboned and defatted meats was in line with OIE standards for the inactivation of FMD, but not for ASF. The European Union would thus amend its measures only in the case of species that are not susceptible to ASF. The process of amending the existing import rules, to thereby meet the request of Russia, had already begun, and a proposal was expected to be adopted soon.

In March 2014 Russia reiterated its concerns regarding the EU heat treatment regimen for meat products, treated stomachs, bladders and intestines obtained from domestic cattle and farmed wild cloven-hoofed animals (except pigs), as well as domestic sheep and goats. Although the European Union recognized Kaliningrad as a separate region in terms of veterinary concerns, it authorized imports from this region only of products subject to a heat treatment of at least 80°C. Products from the rest of Russia were prohibited, other than to transit through the European Union. In response to a Russian request in March 2013 that the European Union establish the minimum core temperature of 70°C for heat treatment of such products and restore the right to export from the mainland of Russia, the European Union only agreed to the 70°C treatment for products from the Kaliningrad region, but required a longer exposure time than that requested. In response to a March 2014 request for the scientific justification of the EU requirements, the European Commission had explained that the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code did not establish special procedures for the destruction of the ASF virus in meat. Consequently, the European Commission decided to apply the procedures in EU legislation for classical swine fever and other viral diseases, i.e. 80°C. Russia noted that this contradicted the provisions of the OIE Code that defined a minimum core temperature of 70°C (regimen D) as sufficient to inactivate classical swine fever virus. See also G/SPS/GEN/1328.
The European Union highlighted that the issue had been subject to intensive bilateral exchanges during recent years. Imports of meat products from pigs and ruminants used to be permitted from Russia since 1997 if they had been heat-treated to a minimum of 80°C. The animal health situation had deteriorated in Russia, with classical swine fever and African swine fever spreading due to inadequate controls. Russia did not apply regionalization within its territory and did not have an OIE officially recognized Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) status. The European Union encouraged Russia to set in motion the process to regionalize major animal diseases in their territory and to seek FMD recognition from the OIE.

In July 2014 Russia recalled that it had previously raised concerns in the June 2013 SPS Committee meeting about the EU requirement that bovine and porcine meat products be heat-treated to 80 degrees Celsius. In 2010, the competent Russian authority initiated the authorization process for exports of raw meat preparation derived from cattle, pigs and poultry produced in the Kaliningrad region into the European Union. Russia requested modified conditions of heat treatment for these products. As a result of joint long-term work undertaken by the Russian authorities and DG SANCO, EU Regulation No. 1162/2012 had been issued, which regulates the procedure for the export of animal products from the Kaliningrad region into the European Union. However, Russia noted that this regulation had since created many difficulties for its ready-to-eat meat product exports from the rest of Russia, and had resulted in Russia's exclusion from the list of third countries authorized to export these products into the European Union. To date, Russia had been unable to obtain a satisfactory science-based explanation for the EU's decision to maintain the 80 degree heat treatment regime for pork. Russia requested a speedy resolution to this issue.
The European Union indicated that it was willing to amend Commission Decision 2007/777/EC in order to re-establish the right of the whole country of Russia to export pig- and ruminant-origin meat products to the European Union. This position had already been communicated to Russia via bilateral channels. The European Union underlined that establishments approved to export the identified products were situated exclusively in the Kaliningrad region. Before approving establishments in the rest of Russia, an audit from the EU Food and Veterinary Office would be required to verify a satisfactory animal and public health situation, which was standard procedure. The European Union was willing to consider the most adequate and effective import requirements according to the sanitary situation of the exporting party. The European Union would also review its requirements on processed pig products if and when the relevant OIE standards were modified or new scientific studies demonstrated that less stringent treatments could provide sufficient safety with regard to African swine fever. In the case of ruminant-origin meat products, Russia did not apply the policy of regionalization in accordance with international standards nor did it have a favourable FMD status officially recognized by the OIE. For this reason, the European Union would not be in a position to relax its import requirements regarding ruminant-origin meat products. The European Union remained committed to continuing discussions on this issue and urged Russia to apply the principle of regionalization for major animal diseases within its territory. In response, Russia noted that regionalization was not relevant for FMD in the case for prepared meat products.