Cubans Will Be Able to Import Raw Meat and Other Vacuum-packed Foods

The meat must be properly vacuum packed, otherwise it will be confiscated and incinerated. (CC)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 September 2022 — Cubans will now be able to import fresh meat, sausages, seafood and other foods, as long as they are vacuum-packed for travelers and individuals, according to a resolution released on Tuesday by the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Center for Animal Health. This document relaxes a previous provision, published in August, that prohibited the import of several products whose entry will be allowed from now on.

According to the text, “facilities” will be provided to anyone who brings to the Island any meat in a fresh, frozen, dehydrated and semi-finished state, such as hamburgers and picadillo, on the sole condition that they arrive correctly sealed and identified.

Sausages such as ham, chorizos and salami may be imported, but temporarily, if they are in the same packaging conditions.

Authorization will be maintained for the entry of preserves of any kind, including those of marine products, milk powder, UHT fluid milk (processed at high temperatures) and dairy desserts, as well as pasteurized mature cheeses.

The entry of unpasteurized milk and dairy products, as well as meat “from wildlife” in any form of conservation, is still “absolutely” prohibited. The purpose of maintaining this restriction is to “avoid the introduction of biological agents that cause diseases harmful to domestic animals, wildlife and man in the case of animal transmission.”

The Ministry of Agriculture also provides a list of “eligible countries” from which these items can be imported, which “could be modified in relation to changes in the animal health situation” of the places of origin of the food.

The countries, whose name must appear clearly on the product label, are Spain, the United States, Portugal, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

If a traveler brings products “whose packaging suffers some breakage or deterioration,” the text provides for their immediate confiscation and incineration.

The new regulation seeks to alleviate the food shortage in Cuba, which is now immersed in a crisis of large-scale agricultural production. The scarcity and difficulty in finding food, rising inflation and the need to resort to the foreign exchange market, both state and informal, make the food issue one of the most delicate for the population.

This measure is taken weeks after the Government issued a Food Sovereignty Law. The legislation then promised to “produce food in a sustainable way and give the entire population access to sufficient, diverse, balanced, nutritious, harmless and healthy food, reducing dependence on external means and inputs with respect for cultural diversity and environmental responsibility.”

The regulations implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture not only contradict the text on food sovereignty, but also continue to seek abroad the solution to the food problem of Cuba, a country that imports about 80% of the food it consumes.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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