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Simon Hall

Simon Hall

‘A Different World And A Different Mindset’

7 months ago

14th October, 2021 10h56

Improve International

EU product certification was one of many Brexit-related topics on the OV Conference Online 2021 agenda 

A foreseeable but unprecedented increase in the volume and complexity of export health certificates (EHCs) for foods of animal origin destined for the European Union (EU), combined with rigorous scrutiny at Border Control Posts, is making the role of the Official Veterinarian (OV) pivotal. 

So says Simon Hall, former Veterinary Director of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), who now works as an export OV. He discussed the latest developments in product certification during a lecture at this year’s Improve International OV Conference Online, pointing out that the changes are a result of Brexit, which has coincided with new legislation being implemented by the EU.  

“The complexities of the new certification process mean that being an export OV is now a demanding but rewarding job. In-depth expertise, including an understanding of the preferences of each Border Control Post, is needed. It’s easy to make a mistake which will almost certainly be picked up and cause trouble at the border.  Take your time, check your work and ask a colleague to review difficult or unfamiliar certificates.” 

He cited the issue of sealing trucks as a challenge.  Previously, OVs were able to view products in a warehouse, check that the goods were properly identified and sign the certificate if all was in order. Under new EU regulations, OVs are expected to be at the warehouse to watch the product being loaded and apply an official seal.  Getting an OV, truck, documentation and product together in the same place is far from easy and if one of the four is not there on time, consequential costs for the exporter can be significant.  

This year’s OV Conference, the only UK event dedicated to the continuing professional development (CPD) needs of OVs, was organised by Improve International, in association with APHA and took place online between 28-30 September. It was addressed by a wide range of speakers, including the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss.  

Recordings of the Conference presentations are available until 31 March 2022, enabling delegates to view on demand for six months. The platform will also remain open for new registrations throughout this time. Full details of the programme are available at 

In addition to watching the recordings, delegates can view questions from the presentations and continue discussions with colleagues and speakers on the Discussion Forum. OVs should also be aware that they have continued access to the Exports Forum and the latest version of their OV courses at, should they wish to ask for guidance from colleagues or check back for recent updates. 

About Improve International 

One of the world’s leading veterinary training companies, Improve International was founded in 1998 by a group of like-minded vets and has since provided continuing education to more than 20,000 veterinary surgeons and nurses across 20 countries, including the UK, Germany, Spain, the USA, Australia and China. 

The organisation pioneered modular CPD in the UK for veterinary professionals, combining review lectures, case-based discussion and hands-on practical sessions in their specialist wet-labs. Today, delegates can also choose from online and blended courses, covering a wide range of species and subjects. 

Responsible for the delivery of the taught programmes, Improve International works closely with its awarding partner, the International School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies (ISVPS) and with Harper Adams University, which provides the higher education body validation and quality assurance. 

Improve International was the first organisation to be awarded a contract from Defra in 2014, for the training and assurance of Official Veterinarians in the UK. 

For more information and to explore the range of Improve International CPD courses, visit 

For further information: 

Rebecca George, George PR 

Tel: 01449 737281/07974 161108 

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