Commission Press Release (IP/02/1127), 23 July 2002
Official controls relating to hygiene of food of animal origin for human consumption are to be revamped under a new proposal adopted by the European Commission. The proposal is one of five making up the so-called "hygiene package" of measures foreshadowed in the action plan of the Commission's White Paper on Food Safety. This proposal provides for revised rules for official controls on fresh meat, live bivalve molluscs, and milk and milk products. The central aim of the proposal is to ensure a high level of protection for consumers, giving enhanced guarantees for the safety of products of animal origin.
As regards meat, the proposal:
a) integrates the latest opinions of the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures related to public health, implementing a science-based approach to meat inspection;
b) implements a risk-based approach to meat inspection, aimed at protecting the consumer from all relevant hazards linked to the consumption of meat;
c) integrates the "farm to fork" approach into the meat inspection system, establishing a continuous flow of information between primary production and slaughterhouses;
d) creates a clear division of responsibilities between the slaughterhouse operator and the competent authorities;
e) brings meat inspection legislation into line with forthcoming EU legislation particularly in the fields of hygiene, zoonoses and official feed and food controls.
As regards live bivalve molluscs, the proposal identifies what needs to be done by the competent authority in order to ensure the safety of these products. This includes the setting up of a monitoring programme of harvesting areas to check the microbiological quality of live bivalve molluscs, the presence of toxin-producing plankton and the presence of chemical contamination.
As regards milk and milk products, the proposal aims to ensure that where raw milk fails to meet the required health standards, corrective action is taken at farm level, and that milk that might constitute a hazard to human health cannot be delivered for human consumption.
The "hygiene package" of proposals aims to merge, harmonise and simplify very detailed and complex hygiene requirements currently scattered over seventeen Directives.
The overall aim is to create a single, transparent hygiene policy applicable to all food and all food operators, together with effective instruments to manage food safety, and any possible future food crises, throughout the food chain.
The basic principles underpinning the new hygiene rules are threefold:
The hygiene proposals are subject to the co-decision procedure. Once adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the Regulations will replace the Directive on the hygiene of foodstuffs (93/43) and sixteen product specific Council Directives.