All port and airport terminals in the European Community must have an Inspection Center to monitor products of animal origin from outside Europe. The check is a fundamental protection for end consumers and the entire food market. We spoke with Doctor Sergio Pallanca, Veterinarian Inspector.
What does a veterinarian do in a port terminal?
In Italy, like in the rest of the European Union, products of animal origin destined for human and animal use fall under veterinarian inspection. Recently, plant products used for animal feed were also added to this category.
We, the Veterinarians at the Ministry of Health, are appointed to inspect all the products of animal origin from organic fertilizers to cheeses, as well as meat, fish, and other possible derivatives.
The veterinary checks are mandatorily conducted in the Border Inspection Points present in the port and airport landing terminals. In Europe, there are 299 points of inspection, of which 29 are in Italy.
What’s involved in a check?
After checking origin and registration documents, we start the visit in the office at the terminal checking origin seals on the doors of the containers. This is how we verify the manufacturing plant, which must be authorized by the European Community, and the navigation seal.
We then pass to the identity check to verify the data corresponds between the labels affixed to the goods and the documents in our possession. In the case of containers with controlled temperatures, we verify, moreover, the data present in the navigation disks to ensure that there were no changes in temperature or breaks in the cold chain during the journey.
We then verify the integrity of the container, the presence of odors, liquids, condensation, and eventual anomalies in the uniformity of the load, and if necessary, carry out organoleptic tests. In this case, we proceed with opening the packs, checking the state, color, odor, and then with subsequent cooking and tasting of the goods.
Then there are analytic controls?
A survey is also taken for microbiological and chemical checks. Samples are taken of the goods to be analyzed by the Zooprophylactic Institute.
The analytical tests are subdivided into two types: the goods are placed in either without constraint or with constraint. The former allows for the release of the goods from the Terminal. The second, however, requires the goods remain within the port to wait for the results, which generally arrive within a week.
What happens at the end of the check?
Once the check is over, we place the official seal of the Ministry of Health which confirms the successful testing and the seal of the terminal as well. The goods are given the corresponding DVCE (Common Veterinary Entry Document), and after a last test by the Guardia di Finanza, the goods are free to circulate within the territory.