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Fresh Meat Import Ruling Debated

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Fresh Meat Import Ruling Debated

Cows at Mývatn

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The Reykjavík District Court ruled Friday that the Icelandic State must pay damages to a company that was prevented from importing fresh beef tenderloins to Iceland, RÚV reports. The EFTA (European Free Trade Association) Court had previously ruled that those hindrances did not comply with the EEA (European Economic Area) Agreement.

The company, Fresh Meat Products (Ferskar kjötvörur), attempted to import 83 kg (183 lbs) of fresh beef tenderloins in February of 2014, but authorities refused to allow the import unless the meat had been frozen for 30 days prior to import. The meat couldn’t go through customs and was eventually discarded. The company sued the state and demanded EUR 2,000 (USD 2,100) in damages.

Former Minister of Agriculture Jón Bjarnason disagrees with the ruling and maintains that Icelandic law supersedes the EEA Agreement in certain areas.

When the EEA food ordinance was enacted, the requirement for freezing fresh meat was not revoked. Importers have harshly criticized that, since they wish to import fresh, unfrozen meat. It has been debated whether Iceland is authorized to maintain this special rule, which was rationalized with references to the protection of livestock and public health.

Ólafur Jóhannes Einarsson, marketing director for the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) believes the Icelandic state must change its rules regarding the import of fresh meat from the European Economic Area, so that it complies with EEA ordinances.

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