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Official feed and food controls

In the context of the review of food hygiene legislation ("hygiene package"), this Regulation re-organises official controls of food and feed so as to integrate controls at all stages of production and in all sectors. The Regulation defines the European Union's duties as regards the organisation of these controls, as well as the rules which must be respected by the national authorities responsible for carrying out the official controls, including coercive measures adopted in the event of failure to comply with Community law.

ACT

Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules. [See Amending Acts].

SUMMARY

This Regulation is designed to fill in the loopholes in the existing legislation concerning the official control of food and feed thanks to a harmonised Community approach to the design and implementation of national control systems.

The purpose of this Regulation is:

  • to prevent or eliminate risks which may arise, either directly or via the environment, for human beings and animals, or reduce these risks to an acceptable level;
  • to guarantee fair practices as regards trade in food and feed and the protection of consumers' interests, including labelling of food and feed and any other form of information intended for consumers.

Official controls are defined as "any form of control performed by the competent authority or by the Community for the verification of compliance with feed and food law, as well as animal health and animal welfare rules".

This Regulation does not apply to official controls for the verification of compliance with the rules on common market organisations agricultural products.

OBLIGATIONS RELATING TO OFFICIAL CONTROLS

The basic principles related to responsibilities of the Member States' authorities are already laid down in the Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, which lays down the general principles of food law. The present regulation describes in more detail how these principles must be interpreted and implemented.

The official controls carried out by the Member States must enable them to verify and ensure compliance with national and Community rules on feed and food. To this end, official controls must in principle be carried out at any stage of production, processing and distribution of feed and food. These controls are defined as a function of the identified risks, the experience and knowledge gained from previous controls, the reliability of the controls already carried out by the business operators concerned, and a suspicion of possible non-compliance.

Competent authorities

The Member States designate the competent authorities responsible for performing the official controls. These authorities must satisfy the operational criteria ensuring their effectiveness and their impartiality. They must also have the necessary equipment and suitably qualified staff (areas specified in Annex II) and have contingency pans. Internal or external audits may be carried out to ensure that the competent authorities are achieving the objectives of the Regulation.

When some of the controls are delegated to regional or local authorities, it is necessary to ensure effective cooperation between the central authority and these authorities.

The competent authority may delegate certain control tasks to non-governmental bodies provided these bodies meet the strictly defined conditions set out in this Regulation. Hence a procedure is therefore provided to define the tasks that can (or cannot) be delegated to such bodies. The adoption of coercive measures may not be delegated. The competent authority may proceed to audit or inspect the bodies to which the tasks have been delegated.

Transparency and confidentiality

The competent authorities must ensure that relevant information they hold is made available to the public, notably when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that food or feed may present a risk for human or animal health.

The staff of the competent authorities are required not to disclose information acquired when carrying out their control duties which by its nature is covered by professional secrecy.

Sampling and analysis

The methods of sampling and analysis used within the context of official controls must be fully validated in accordance with Community legislation or with internationally accepted protocols. These analysis methods must take into account the criteria set out in Annex III and must be implemented by laboratories approved to this end in compliance with the standards laid down by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN).

Intervention plans

Contingency plans must be prepared which set out the measures to be implemented in the event of an emergency where feed or food have been found to pose a serious risk to humans or animals either directly or through the environment. These contingency plans specify the administrative authorities to be engaged together with their powers and responsibilities.

Controls on products from Non-EU Member Countries

This regulation supplements the provisions set out in Directive 97/78/EC concerning controls applicable to feed and food of animal origin. For example, it introduces the following principles for feed and food of non-animal origin:

  • regular official controls by the Member States of feed and food of non-animal origin imported into the European Union (EU). These controls can take place at any point of the distribution of the goods: before release for free circulation or afterwards, e.g. at the importer's premises, during processing or at the point of retail sale. There shall in any way be a close co-operation between the customs services and the competent authority;
  • at Community level, a list of at-risk feed and food must be established and updated. Such feed and food must be presented at specially designated and equipped inspection posts for the carrying out of the necessary checks. These controls must be carried out at the point of entry in the EU before the goods are released for free circulation.
  • the possibility of carrying out official controls on feed and food originating in Non-EU Member Countries which enter into free zones and free warehouses or is placed in transit, customs warehousing, inward processing, processing under customs control or temporary admission.

The abovementioned controls include at least a documentary control, an identity control and, where relevant, a physical control.

In the case that non-compliance with the legislation is ascertained, the products may be seized or confiscated, and shall be destroyed, submitted to a special treatment, or re-dispatched outside the Community; the operator responsible for the consignment in question shall be liable for the costs incurred.

Specific pre-export checks performed by a Non-EU Member Country may be approved provided they satisfy the requirements of the Community or requirements which are at least equivalent. If such an approval is granted, the frequency of the controls carried out by the Member States may be adapted.

Financing of official controls

Member States must ensure that adequate financial resources are made available for official controls.

Inspection fees are imposed on feed and food business operators, common principles must be observed for setting the level of such fees and the methods and data used for the calculation of the fees must be published or otherwise made available to the public.

When official controls reveal non-compliance with feed and food law, the extra costs that result from more intensive controls must be borne by the feed and food business operator concerned.

Certification

This proposal provides for a procedure making it possible to specify the cases and conditions in which official certification must be granted.

Reference laboratories

A number of Community Reference Laboratories (CRLs) have been established (Annex VII) under Community legislation in force. They may be entitled to EU financial support and are responsible for:

  • providing national reference laboratories with details of analytical methods;
  • organising comparative testing, coordinating within their area of competence the practical and scientific activities necessary for developing new analytical methods;
  • conducting training courses;
  • providing scientific and technical assistance to the Commission.

For each CRL, Member States must ensure that one or more national reference laboratories are designated. These function as the point of communication between the CRL and all the official laboratories in the Member States.

ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES

Assistance and cooperation

When the official controls require action by more than one Member State, the competent authorities must afford each other administrative assistance. This assistance may involve active cooperation, including participation in on-the-spot controls carried out by experts from one Member State in another Member State.

Each Member State must designate a single liaison body whose role is to assist and coordinate the communication, transmission and reception of requests for assistance. Where it receives a reasoned request (existence of a serious risk), the liaison body contacts the authorities concerned and ensures that the requesting authority is provided with all necessary information and documents enabling the latter to verify compliance with the law.

When the competent authority of a Member State receives information from a Non-EU Member Country, that authority must pass that information on to the competent authorities of the Member State which might be interested in it.

Administrative assistance applies to the exchange of all information, except that which cannot be released because of it being the subject of legal proceedings or because it may adversely affect the commercial interests of natural or legal persons.

National Control Plans

The Member States must prepare an integrated multi-annual national control plan. This plan, whose implementation must begin by 1 January 2007 at the latest, sets out the national control system and activities in a global and comprehensive way. The plan will have to be developed along the lines that are contained in guidelines to be established by the Commission in consultation with the Member States.

One year after starting the implementation of the national control plans, and subsequently every year, the Member States must submit to the Commission a report indicating an update of their initial control plan. The Commission must establish a general report on the overall operation of the official control systems on the basis of the national reports and the results of the audits which it has carried out. It passes this report on to the European Parliament and the Council and publishes it.

Community controls in the Member States

Until now, Community controls in the Member States were organised in function of the mandates the Commission has in the different sectoral Directives.. The creation of a single legal basis with this Regulation and the establishment of control plans will allow the EU control services to perform a general audit of the Member States' control systems globally. If needed, these inspections and national audits performed by the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) can be supplemented by more specific audits and inspections for a particular sector or problem. For each control carried out, the Commission establishes a report on its findings and, where appropriate, this report contains recommendations which must be followed up by the Member States.

This Regulation also provides that Commission experts may carry out controls in Non-EU Member Countries and require that these countries have control plans comparable with those of the Member States in respect of the products they export to the European Union. These plans must be technically and economically feasible taking account of specific situation of the Non-EU Member Country as well as the nature of the products exported to the Community.

Non-EU Member Country controls in Member States

Non-EU Member Countries which wish to export goods to the EU must provide the Commission with information on the organisation and general management of their health surveillance systems. If this information is not satisfactory, provisional measures may be taken by the Commission after consulting the country concerned.

The Commission must take account of the lists drawn up pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 laying down specific rules for the organisation of official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption. For other types of products the Commission may eventually draw up comparable lists or adopt other measures (certificates, special import conditions, etc.).

Training of control officials

There must be a Community framework for training control staff in the Member States in order to ensure a uniform level of the decisions taken by such staff Hence the Commission may organise training courses relating to legislation, control measures and techniques, the manufacture, processing and marketing of food and feed.

Non-EU Member Country controls in the Member States

The authorities of Non-EU Member Countries may organise controls in the Member States, accompanied where appropriate by representatives of the FVO, who can assist Member States by providing information and data that are available at Community level and that may be useful in the context of the Non-EU Member Country control carried out.

National enforcement measures

Where non-compliance is ascertained during official controls, the competent authority concerned must take appropriate measures taking into account the nature of the non-compliance and that operator's past record with regard to non-compliance. This may involve administrative measures (withdrawal from the market or destruction of a product, closure of a business or suspension of an establishment's approved status, etc.) or penalties. These penalties must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

Community enforcement measures

This regulation adds a new dimension to the safeguard measures provided for in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, hence allowing the Commission to take measures when there is proof that a Member State's control system is inadequate. These may include the suspension of the placing on the market of certain feed or foodstuffs or the laying down of special conditions for certain feed or foodstuffs. These measures are taken if Community controls have shown non-compliance with Community legislation and the Member State concerned has failed to correct the situation upon request and within the time limit set by the Commission.

BACKGROUND

In January 2000 the Commission presented a complete overhaul of the legislation concerning food hygiene and veterinary issues. The overhaul contained four proposals, on the following subjects:

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 882/2004

20.05.2004

-

OJ L 165 of 30.04.2004

Regulation (EC) No 1162/2009 [Official Journal L 314 of 1.12.2009].
Regulation (EC) No 1162/2009 grants additional time to laboratories located in slaughterhouses carrying out official testing for Trichinella to obtain full accreditation. The granting of the exception is subject to compliance with certain conditions. In particular, the laboratories in question must demonstrate that they have taken steps in view of their accreditation and offer satisfactory guarantees regarding the quality of the analyses they carry out.

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1029/2008

10.11.2008

-

OJ L 278 of 21.10.2008

Regulation (EC) No

596/2009

7.8.2009

-

OJ L 188 of 18.7.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

RELATED ACTS

Commission Decision 2009/821/EC of 28 September 2009 drawing up a list of approved border inspection posts, laying down certain rules on the inspections carried out by Commission veterinary experts and laying down the veterinary units in Traces [Official Journal L 296 of 12.11.2009].
See consolidated version

Commission Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 of 24 July 2009 implementing Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the increased level of official controls on imports of certain feed and food of non-animal origin and amending Decision 2006/504/EC [Official Journal L 194 of 25.7.2009].
See consolidated version

Last updated: 07.10.2010
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