Post-Brexit checks rejecting less than 1% of British imports

Some 24,481 consignments of animal food, plants and live animals processed this year

Some 97 per cent of the consignments were processed by inspectors at Dublin Port.  In most cases where consignments were rejected, the product was destroyed. Photograph: Alan Betson

Some 97 per cent of the consignments were processed by inspectors at Dublin Port. In most cases where consignments were rejected, the product was destroyed. Photograph: Alan Betson

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Less than 1 per cent of animal food products, plants and live animals imported from Britain have been rejected by State inspectors in post-Brexit checks since January 1st, new figures show.

The Department of Agriculture said it had processed 24,481 consignments, mostly at Dublin Port, since the beginning of the year under the new border controls on imports from Britain.

Inspectors carried out 27,918 checks on those consignments in that 24-week period to June 20th. Just 175 consignments, or 0.7 per cent of those processed, were rejected, mostly because the imports were not accompanied by the required health certificate.

Products of food and plant origin along with live animals arriving into the State from Britain have been subject to sanitary and phytosanitary checks applying to non-EU goods. The checks have been carried out the EU-designated border control posts (BCPs) at Dublin Port, Dublin Airport, Rosslare Europort and Shannon Airport.

Some 97 per cent of the consignments were processed by inspectors at Dublin Port, the State’s largest port.

In most cases where consignments were rejected, the product was destroyed as it was usually just part of a load being carried by a heavy goods vehicle, the department said.

Documentary checks

Of the rejected consignments, 90 were products of plant origin, 63 were products of animal origin and 16 were rejected on the basis that they did not comply with EU rules on pesticides. No consignments of live animal imports were rejected.

Hazel Sheridan, head of the department’s import control division, said the main focus of the work by inspectors was on documentary checks to ensure that importers had correct certificates.

Inspectors carry out documentary checks on all food and other products of animal and plant origin, while all live animal imports and between 60 and 70 per cent of plant products are subject to identity checks by inspectors.

“The physical check rates vary and that has not been so much of our focus in the early part of the year but it will be in the latter part of the year,” she said.

Ms Sheridan said the “very low” number of rejected consignments was “a testament to how well businesses have adapted to the situation”.

“It was pretty bumpy in the early days, but we are definitely on a much smoother road now. We have been impressed by how quickly businesses have adapted,” she said.

‘Agile and adaptive’

The change to border controls on inbound products from Britain was “the most significant change since the EU single market was created” more than a quarter of a century ago, she said.

“It was always going to be a very big shock to the trading system. It has been a real testament to everybody how quickly businesses have adapted and just how agile and adaptive businesses, hauliers and operators in the supply chain are in Ireland and the UK,” she said.

Ms Sheridan warned traders to be ready for the “next shock” from October 1st when Britain would start applying border controls to exports from Ireland and the rest of the EU.

She expected businesses would stockpile and “front-load products” ahead of the October deadline to allow them to adjust, but urged traders to have the required paperwork ready to avoid delays.

“If you are exporting products to the UK, you really need to be very clear what the GB import requirements are and then making sure that you’re able to comply with them,” she said. “One of the key messages for businesses is to do things as early as you possibly can.”

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