Lorry drivers will be forbidden from taking a ham and cheese sandwich – or other meat and dairy products – from the UK into the EU from 1 January, even if it’s only to eat while they’re driving.
Personal imports of certain animal-origin products will be banned from 11pm on 31 December, UK government officials said – a ban which will also apply to tourists.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs advised transport representatives of the ban this week – giving the specific example of an ordinary sandwich.
“From 1 January 2021 you will not be able to bring POAO (products of animal origin) such as those containing meat or dairy (eg a ham and cheese sandwich) into the EU,” the official guidelines state.
One truck fleet operator said he had not been aware of the new rules – which he said would cause added friction at the border.
“God help the poor customs bloke who is going to turf out the driver’s packing up box [food box]. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are fisticuffs if they try,” Simon Wilkinson told the Guardian.
“The thing is, when drivers are going to Europe they pack up their box for days and weeks. The tractor [the cab of the trailer] is basically their home from home.
“You have microwaves, the works, in your tractor so that if you do get stuck, or if you are away for a week if you are going somewhere like Spain, you are self-sufficient.”
Queues continue to stretch down motorways in Kent and Calais – while this week, the government said the enormous lorry park it was due to open in Ashford to relieve congestion would not be ready to open on 1 January.
The European Commission said the new restrictions are all necessary to create a biosecure border.
“Personal goods containing meat, milk or their products brought into the EU continue to present a real threat to animal health throughout the union,” it said.
“It is known, for example, that dangerous pathogens that cause animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease and classical swine fever can reside in meat, milk or their products.”
Truckers will, however, be allowed to carry sweets and chocolate across the border.