Farmers and growers who export or import produce from the European Union (EU) have been warned to check that wooden pallets and crates meet post-Brexit standards.
Since 1 January, all wood packaging materials (WPM) must be heat-treated and marked according to the ISPM15 international standard. Any business that does not comply could face shipments being rejected and, in some cases, fines.
The AHDB warned that all WPM would be subjected to checks in Europe.
The ISPM15 certification is designed to keep out pests and fungus to prevent the spread of foreign species, the AHDB said. It applies to all countries outside the EU customs union and both exporters and importers must be sure they comply.
The Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation (Timcon) said the international standard had been adopted in 2002, but goods shipped within the EU’s borders had previously been exempt.
A Timcon spokesman said there had been sufficient time ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU to ensure 95% of WPM was manufactured and marked appropriately.
However, he warned that pallets and crates were frequently reused, repaired and recycled, and there may be material in circulation without the correct certification.
Any repairs had to be carried out by approved companies using material that has been correctly treated and marked, he added. WPM coming into the UK must also be checked for the correct marks.
All food sectors are likely to be affected by the change.
British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) technical operations director David Lindars said the new rules were a concern for all boxed and vacuum-packed chilled exports.
The BMPA has carried out awareness events and no problems have been reported in the first days since exports resumed, Mr Lindars said.
However, WPM checks could add another layer of potentially time-consuming hurdles for exporters and at inspection points once exports were back in full flow, he warned.
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