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POULTRY

Regulations for Poultry in GCC countries
Wednesday, 07 February, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Abhishek Saareen
The competent authorities responsible for food control in the GCC countries recognise that effective and efficient inspection and certification systems are fundamental components of the trade in food. These authorities have the common goal of an integrated and harmonised import inspection and certification system that is best practice, risk-based and meets without prejudice the obligations of the relevant World Trade Organization agreements. This system will be fit for purpose and will ensure consumer protection while facilitating trade. The said authorities have the responsibility of ensuring that all food arriving in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries complies with the relevant GCC requirements.

All imported food will be subjected to health control at the point of entry to ensure that food complies with the GCC technical regulations and requirements. The means of assurance provided by exporting countries can be provided in a number of ways, e.g., documentation and certification, reference to other assurances provided through inspection activities by the competent authority in the exporting country or an officially-recognised party, trading arrangements based on the history of compliance of previous shipments of known origin.

There is ongoing work in the GCC countries to harmonise all regulatory requirements for imported foods and provide a coordinated and efficient border inspection and clearance system. In particular, the countries of the GCC continue to work towards a fully risk-based approach to assure the safety of imported foods. All food shipments/consignment imported to the countries of the GCC shall be subject to harmonised regulatory requirements.

Regulatory requirements will be subject to continuous review as the countries of the GCC work towards a fully unified regulatory environment. Inspection and certification requirements applying to food safety aspects of imported food will be risk-based to the greatest extent practicable, with control measures applied in proportion to likely risks to the consumer. The type and frequency of inspection at the time of import of shipments of food, and clearance procedures, will reflect this approach. The technical regulations and standards of the GCC countries will be used as the primary basis for certification of food shipments by exporting countries. Where deemed appropriate by the GCC e.g., where current GCC technical regulations and standards are not comprehensive in terms of specific requirements for certain imported foods, the GCC may defer to Codex, OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health)and IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention) standards, guidelines and recommendations as the basis for certification (and other assurances).

All aspects of the GCC inspection and certification systems will be documented and transparent, with details of regulatory requirements and operational procedures being made available to exporting countries and other stakeholders as requested. The competent authorities of the GCC countries will strive for uniform implementation of regulatory requirements and operational procedures in the advent of multiple entry points for imported foods. Certification of shipments, accompanied by full documentation of the details of each food shipment, are key components of import food controls applied by the countries of the GCC; the exporting country should take all measures to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of official certification, and certification by officially-recognised bodies. The legislation of the GCC countries provides for flexible certification and other alternative measure where the food control system applied by the exporting country’s competent authority is officially recognised by the GCC. This flexibility can be a consequence of a range of activities e.g., through audit of systems in exporting countries, recognising registration of approved premises in exporting countries, memoranda of understanding, mutual recognition agreements, and equivalence agreements.

Required Documents and Health Certificates for Poultry
All consignments of imported poultry must be covered by appropriate documentation and certification. The authenticity and accuracy of official certification and certification by officially-recognised bodies will be periodically verified and audited by the countries of the GCC. All consignments must be accompanied by an original health certificate issued by the competent authority in the country of origin or an officially recognised body. The health certificate should attest to compliance with the GCC requirements countries.

Documentation issued or approved by the relevant competent authority or officially recognised bodies or other designated entities in the country of origin must include:  1) Customs declaration; 2) Permit delivery; 3) Commercial licence / Commercial register in the relevant field; 4) Health certificate; 5) List of Contents; 6) Halal Slaughtering Certificate for poultry; 7) Supporting documentation for any labelled claims (nutrition claims, health claims and other claims) as required. Nutrition and health claims for food shall only be acceptable, if claim and wording thereof has been approved by internationally recognised scientific bodies; 8) Temperature records; 9) Any additional documentation as requested by the competent authorities of the GCC, in case of incidents and emergency management.

Electronically-transmitted health certificates are an acceptable alternative to paper certificates accompanying an imported food consignment where the electronic certification system has been accepted by the GCC countries as legitimate documents.

Health Attestations for Poultry
Health attestations for poultry should be declared in the relevant section of the standard forms of health certificates, by the competent authority in the country of origin / country of dispatch as the main assurance of system compliance and product safety. An exporting country shall assure that exported poultry to GCC countries is safe and fit for human consumption. Exporting countries shall certify or otherwise assure that the food meets the importing countries (i.e. GCC) requirements. In case where a foreign poultry establishment (slaughterhouse/processing plant) is interested in exporting to GCC, it should not start its exports to the GCC unless it has been approved by the GCC or the GCC have technical agreements with the competent authority of the exporting country. The exporting countries shall issue health certificates using the health certificate templates provided by the GCC countries. However, if exporting countries prefer to use their own health certificate templates; the certificates should include all the attestations required in the GCC health certificates templates. Health certificates can be issued in Arabic, English or in both languages.

GCC competent authorities may request additional health attestations (declarations) if deemed necessary; for instance, in case of incidents, emergency situations, or to assure fulfilment of OIE, GCC or Halal requirements or for any other reasons.

Health Attestations for Export of Poultry
• The poultry is safe and fit for human consumption; • Animals have been slaughtered in a slaughterhouse approved and under the supervision of the competent authority of the exporting country, and are approved by the GCC authorities; • The poultry animals that have been subjected to ante-mortem and post- mortem inspection by veterinarians assigned by the Competent Authority of the country of origin; • The poultry was handled at an establishment that has been subjected to inspections by the competent authority and implements a food safety management system based on HACCP principles or an equivalent system; • Good veterinary practices have been applied in the use of veterinary medicines (including growth promoters) and agriculture chemicals in live animals, and any residues in poultry product comply with GCC requirements; • The poultry originates from animals that have not been slaughtered for the purpose of disease eradication or disease control; • The meat from poultry animals not fed with feed containing meat and bone powders or any remnants of protein from ruminants.

Halal Certificate/Halal Slaughtering Certificate
Verification of the Halal certificate/Halal slaughtering certificate must be undertaken for all relevant consignments of poultry. In the case of poultry, the Muslim societies/agencies and Islamic councils in the exporting country that approved by the GCC will supervise the slaughter process and provide documentation according to GCC requirements. Recognised Islamic bodies for Halal certification shall issue Halal slaughtering certificates for non-processed meats; they shall also issue Halal certificates for any food products that contain meat, gelatin, fats and for any food product labelled as Halal. Either Halal slaughtering certificates or Halal certificates can be issued for the processed meat products. Where meat products are manufactured in a country other than the country of origin of that meat, a Halal certificate is required from the country where the meat was manufactured. GCC countries retain the right to require a Halal slaughter certificates if deemed necessary. Attestations set forth below must be recorded under the standardised form for Halal certificate and Halal slaughtering certificate as listed:

Halal Slaughtering Attestations for Export of Poultry
1) Slaughtering has occurred: a) In a slaughterhouse approved by the competent authority of the country of origin and under the supervision of an Islamic organisation for Halal certification recognised by the competent authorities of the GCC countries; b) In the presence of the Islamic organisation’s representative; c) In an establishment where slaughter of pigs does not take place; d) Slaughter was carried out by a Muslim slaughter man with a knife or permissible tool.

2) The fresh meat (chilled or frozen) originated from a country and a slaughterhouse that is authorised to export meat to GCC; and the source of the meat is Halal animal fed and slaughtered according to GCC Technical Regulation (basically, fulfilling the requirements of Halal).

(The author is executive director, Trident F&B Consultants Pvt. Ltd. He can be reached at Abhishek@tridentfb.com)
 
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