Sanitary and phytosanitary requirements
Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are introduced to ensure that consumers are provided with safe food and also to ensure good animal health and plant health in a country. SPS measures include health-related issues such as maximum levels of pesticide residue in foodstuffs, approval of food additives, treatment of wood packing materials to deal with pests, the requirement that animal products should come from a disease-free area, veterinary controls to prevent disease and plant health controls to prevent pests from being introduced into the importing country.
To ensure that SPS measures are not used as unjustified trade barriers between trading partners, the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures was introduced in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1995. The SPS Agreement allows WTO member countries to set their own regulations, while stating that these must be based on science, and should not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between countries with identical or similar conditions. In addition, the measures should not restrict trade more than is necessary to achieve the level of health protection set by the importing country. An important aspect of the SPS Agreement is that member countries are encouraged to use international standards if available.
WTO Members have committed to being transparent as regards their legislation on food safety, animal health and plant health. This means that Members shall notify other Members when new SPS measures are being drafted or existing measures are revised, so that affected Members get the opportunity to provide comments on the proposals. Read more on the WTO website.
Notifications from Members can be received from The SPS Information Management System.