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Annex 2: Best practice guidelines

Best Practice Guidelines for exporters and importers to minimize detention
of smoked fish at port of entry

Imports of fishery products into countries of the European Union such as United Kingdom, France, Italy and Belgium need to undergo veterinary checks conducted by the Port Health Authority, located at the airport of entry. A payment must be made to the authority for the checks before a consignment can be released.

The authority is responsible for checking documents, packaging and the quality of smoked fish. A consignment must also then be cleared by Customs before it can be released to the importer.

Please let the EU port health authority at the airport know at least 6 hours in advance that you have a consignment arriving on a flight.


Exporters and Importers should be aware the following documents are required otherwise a consignment will be detained and either shipped back to the exporter or destroyed:

a) Consignments must have a fully completed and original health certificate issued by the EU competent authority in the country of export. The health certificate must be completed using the language of the country of entry into the EU e.g. English for the UK, French for France.

The health certificate must:

b) Airway bill or Bill of Lading

This must show the consignee’s full name and address and telephone number.

c) Packing list and or Invoices

This must always be attached to the Airway bill. All items in the consignment must be declared. The word assorted is not allowed.

d) Certificate of Veterinary Checks available from the EU port health authority.

Importers wishing to clear their own consignments should go to the airport cargo shed reception. The reception staff will give you a copy of the Certificate of Veterinary Checks (CVC) form and the other documents (health certificate, invoice, Airway bill, packing list) accompanying the consignment. You must complete the left-hand side of the CVC form. The other documents will contain information you require to do this.

When you have completed the CVC you should take it along with the Health Certificate, Airway bill and/or invoices and packing list to the Port Health Authority. An officer will inspect the consignment and issue a Port Health clearance note. You can now obtain customs clearance.


Smoked fish must be packed in new cardboard or polystyrene boxes. It must not be packed in re-used boxes, baskets or be packed using newspaper otherwise it will be detained.

Clearly written or stamped on each box should be:


The two main reasons why Port Health will detain and destroy smoked fish consignments are because it is infested with insects or there is mould growth on the product.

Insect Infestation

The most common insect infesting smoked fish is the adult Dermestes beetle and its larvae (small hairy reddish brown maggot). The larvae do the most physical damage to the fish by eating away the flesh. The female beetle lays her eggs on or in the flesh. The eggs hatch into larvae one to three days later. The larvae remain feeding on the fish for up to three weeks until they are about 15 mm long. At this size they pupate before turning into adult beetles. Exporters should ensure that after smoking the product does not come into contact with adult beetles or larvae. Smoked fish should be stored in an insect free environment. It should not be stored or mixed with product from unknown sources where insect infestation may not have been controlled. The exporter should check a consignment for beetle infestation before it is packed and taken to the airport. Only insect free consignments should be exported.

Mould Growth

Mould spores are found in the air and soil and can contaminate fish during processing. Moulds grow on smoked fish whenever there is enough moisture. Moulds like humid, damp conditions and temperatures of 30 oC to 35 oC. When moulds occur they are relatively easy to remove if caught early enough, as they attack the surface of the fish first and do not immediately penetrate the flesh. At this stage they can be removed by brushing and scraping. Exporters should ensure that smoked fish are checked for mould growth before a consignment is packed and transported. They should also make sure that smoked fish has been well dried and stored and packed in a dry environment using dry packaging materials. Packing smoked fish close to high moisture food stuffs such as vegetables may lead to high humid conditions during transport and will increase the likelihood of mould growth.

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