Food Law News - EU - 2001

Commission Press Release (IP/01/865), 19 June 2001

FEED / CONTAMINANTS - Adoption of rapid alert system for feed - Agreement on undesirable substances in feed

In addition to the progress made on the regulation on animal by-products, the Council today agreed two other key actions in securing the safety of animal feed. The Council adopted a Directive regulating official feed controls and reached a common position on a Directive on undesirable substances in feed. The results of the Agriculture Council is a major step forward in delivering legislative results on the safety of animal feed in response to the BSE and dioxin contamination problems of the past.

The Directive on official inspections in the feed sector foresees additional rules on animal feed controls to ensure the effective handling of feed emergencies. The Directive as amended puts in place a rapid alert system for animal feed, requires that Member States set up contingency plans to deal with in feed emergencies in a properly co-ordinated manner, and gives the Commission the possibility to adopt fast-track safeguard measures in case of a risk with animal feed in the Community.

Secondly, a Common Position on a proposed directive that recasts the rules on undesirable substances and products in animal feed was agreed. It aims to address the weaknesses in the existing legislation that came to light during the 1999 dioxin crisis in Belgium. The main innovation of the proposed Directive is a total ban of the dilution of contaminated with non-contaminated feed materials. They will need to be destroyed or decontaminated. Additionally, the legislation allows setting maximum limits of undesirable substances (i.e. mercury, dioxin, lead, cadmium) in feed additives, since it has been found that additives can also contain contaminants. No derogations from the established maximum limits are allowed. In addition to maximum limits for undesirable substances, the proposed Directive introduces the possibility to set 'action thresholds' for the presence of heavy metals, pesticides etc in animal feed. These are meant as an early warning tool for feed operators and authorities, triggering action to prevent further contamination for example by tracing the sources of contamination. The proposed Directive will be subject to a second reading in the European parliament and Council before its final adoption.

"Both Council and European Parliament have shown in this co-decision procedure they share my view that safe food starts with safe feed", David Byrne said today commenting the outcome. "Putting better controls in place is one of my priorities. Today's amendment to controls on animal feed will give us the essential tools to manage a feed crisis in the Community, and to stop a crisis if it occurs from spinning out of control. As announced in the White Paper for Food Safety, I will put forward further measures to improve and harmonise controls on feed and food later this year. The proposed new directive on contaminants in animal feed sets out rigorous rules, and both Parliament and Council have recognised that we need to be uncompromising and severe in this."

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