The importation of animals and animal products involves a degree of disease and food safety risk to Belize. This risk needs to be assessed in an objective and defensible manner to ensure that the disease and food safety risks posed by imported goods are identified and managed effectively. The WTO under the SPS Agreement specifies that:
- Disease risk assessments should evaluate the likelihood of entry, establishment or spread of a disease within an importing country according to the measures which might be applied, and the associated biological and economic consequences.
- Food safety risk assessments should evaluate the potential for adverse effects on human or animal health from the presence of pathogenic agents, additives, contaminants or toxins in foods, beverages or feedstuffs.
In general, an import risk analysis is conducted when:
- The goods* have never been previously imported. [* - animals, animal products, animal genetic material, feedstuffs, biological products and pathological material]
- The goods originate from a country or region not previously approved.
- The health status of the country or region changes.
- There is new information on a particular disease.
- It is required that a country or region provide evidence that an export good does not represent a significant risk to Belize.
- The process of regionalization is initiated.
Factors to be considered in an import risk analysis must be based on science. Relevant factors include:
- Available scientific data.
- Relevant processes and production methods.
- Relevant inspection, sampling and testing methods.
- The existence of eradication or control measures.
BAHA is the competent authority to commission import risk analyses, to implement the recommendations and to draw up a schedule of the proposed sanitary measures. BAHA, through SI 54 of 2004, includes site visits for verification purposes as a part of the import risk analysis. Since 2003, BAHA has conducted site visits in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica and the USA. Countries such as Barbados, Argentina, Costa Rica and Nicaragua have requested BAHA to conduct import risk analysis for particular goods, inviting BAHA to also conduct the appropriate site visits.
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