STC Number - 167

Restrictions on honey imports

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by: China; Mexico
First date raised: June 2003 G/SPS/R/30, paras. 25-27
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 0409 Natural honey.
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Control, Inspection and Approval Procedures; Food safety; Human health
Status: Resolved
Solution: Following the guarantees received from the United States authorities in relation to their residue monitoring plan, the United States was added to the list of third countries with an approved residue monitoring program for honey (Commission Decision 2004/432/EC of 29 April 2004 on the approval of residue monitoring plans submitted by third countries in accordance with Council Directive 96/23/EC).
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

The United States stated that on 22 May 2003, the European Communities initiated administrative steps to prohibit imports of honey from the United States. EC Directive 96-23 required exporting countries to submit a residue plan. If the residue plan did not contain sufficient guarantees of compliance with EC residue limits, the country would not be authorised to export honey to the European Communities. The United States considered the EC regime to be far more trade restrictive than necessary, and whilst not having identical rules, the United States had comprehensive control mechanisms. Furthermore, honey was consumed in very small quantities and should be considered a "low risk" food. The existing rules in the United States were more than adequate to avoid harm to human health. China and Mexico supported the concerns raised by the United States.
The European Communities explained that it was a net importer of honey and that measures were in place to protect consumers. The request for a residue surveillance plan was a general rule which applied to all products, and a high level of surveillance was needed for honey as it tended to be consumed by children. The United States had received a warning in February 2003 that the absence of a residue plan would lead to their removal from the list of countries approved for import of honey to the European Communities. The European Communities was, however, willing to examine any residue plans provided by the United States.