Shipping Meat Products Overseas? Four Things to Know

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

At Tekka Market yesterday, my usual Sri Lankan crab seller told me that he receives a fresh batch of live crabs everyday. Wow, you might think - shipping meat is no issue at all!


Wrong. Shipping meat and/or Shipping frozen food Internationally (items that contain meat) can attract all sorts of regulations, depending on which country you are shipping to. Countries like the United States and Australia are (in)famous for stopping shipments of meats, even if your items are sealed and only contains some meat ingredients.


In this article, I will be sharing four things you need to know about shipping meat and meat products overseas.


WHY YOU SHOULD CARE?


I get it - this sounds tiring. But here’s why you should care - if your package is flagged at customs because of your meat products, it can result in significant delays (3 days becomes 3 weeks, if you’re lucky), disposal (customs can rip your box open and throw out your wagyu beef), or even worse - the package will be refused entry into the country. Your item will be sent back to Singapore... and all courier companies will charge you for a return shipment.


Unfortunately, this is a hard spot for many courier companies as we have no control over customs clearance. The onus is on you to declare your meat items correctly, or perhaps not even ship them at all.


1. Know your destination country’s regulations


Every country has different regulations. Some are more strict than others. For example, shipping meat products to the USA is a highly regulated procedure. The CBP has an informative article detailing the types of food products you can bring into the USA - snacks containing meat in their spice packets are also restricted items, so even chicken-flavoured indomee gets flagged sometimes.


This doesn’t mean that you can’t ship meat and other meat products into the United States - you can do so if you obtain a Prior Notice with the FDA. A Prior Notice has to be filed in advance of the shipment for a smoother shipping process. More information can be found here. To get started on an application, you can check out the Prior Notice Systems Interface (PNSI) Website.


This is only specific to the USA - every other country has its own restrictions. Please check them up, or risk unnecessary delays and frustration.


2. Try not to ship any perishable foods


Countries like the USA maintain a distinction between perishable and non-perishable food. Perishable foods are foods that will deteriorate over a period of time when exposed to harsh environmental conditions (definition by IATA). This will include foods such as vegetables, meat and seafood. Non-perishable foods refer to canned goods, dry foods … basically anything that has a long shelf life.


Bottom line: It’s much better if you ship non-perishable goods. Non-perishable goods not only attract different custom regulations from different countries, but also require special packing by the IATA. Special packing can be costly, not to mention the paperwork you need to prepare! So - unless you're selling air-flown live Sri Lankan crabs; it’s not worth it.


Ship non-perishable foods in their original packaging!


3. Original packaging


In our experience, shipping your foodstuffs in their original packaging is much safer. It is more likely to fulfill the Custom's requirements for non-perishable foods. So please, do not ship your wet market groceries!


4. Be careful of meat!


Meat is always a dicey thing to ship. Many countries ban or severely restrict the importation of meat products, or snacks that contain meat because of public health concerns. Honest advice? Skip out on the meat products entirely. Ensuring that your recipient receives their beef stock cubes is not worth getting your shipments held hostage by Customs!


Conclusion


In conclusion, shipping meat requires you to do extra research on the various regulations of different Countries' and their customs practices. It is also a strictly regulated good, especially if you're shipping to USA. It might be best to acquire the necessary documentation - or not ship them at all.


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