FSA News Item, 5 January 2007
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The European Commission is currently working on the scope of its review of the EU food hygiene legislation, which came into force a year ago.
The EC intends to seek comments from its network of stakeholders via the Committee of the Food Chain Meeting on 12 January 2007.
The Food Standards Agency will consult on any proposals that emerge.
FSA News Item, 4 January 2007
At the latest meeting of the Commission Working Group on Veterinary Legislation, the Commission indicated its intention to begin a review of the EU food hygiene legislation and to consider whether further amendments to the legislation might be needed (for a report of this meeting, please see the link below).
This alerts you to these developments and the Commission's plans for stakeholder engagement.
At the meeting the Commission indicated that it was still considering and debating the scope of this exercise. It outlined three broad options:
The Commission clearly indicated that it favoured one of the first two options, since it is already able to propose changes to the other annexes of the regulations under comitology without the involvement of the Council and Parliament.
Commission stakeholder consultation
The Commission explained that it intends to seek the initial views of stakeholder organisations at the next meeting of the Committee of the Food Chain scheduled for 12 January 2007. It intends to discuss the issue further with Member States in the Commission Working Group on Veterinary Legislation at a meeting scheduled for the end of January 2007 (possibly 30 January).
The obligation in the legislation for the Commission to produce a report requires that this should happen by 20 May 2009. Since this coincides with European Parliament elections, the Commission is working on the basis of producing its report and any proposals by the end of 2008. Consideration of any proposals requiring agreement under the co-decision arrangements would begin in the latter part of 2009, with a view to their adoption at the end of 2009 (coinciding with the end of the transition period provided for in the transitional measures).
Initial UK views
The UK view is that the new hygiene legislation introduced some key principles concerning the ways in which food should be produced safely. Since the legislation has only been operating since the start of 2006, we have not been made aware of any issues that indicate fundamental difficulties with the flexible, risk-based approach of the legislation. Where we have become aware of issues that need to be addressed, we have tackled these in guidance to industry and to enforcers as appropriate.
We do not therefore consider that there is, at this early stage, sufficient Member States experience, or evidence, to make a judgement on whether there is a need for a fundamental overhaul of the legislation. We will be studying carefully any suggestions for amendments which would serve to introduce unnecessary prescription without any analysis that shows they secure improved public health protection.
FSA Item, 4 January 2007
This report concerns discussions regarding a review of the food hygiene regulations, further implementing legislation for the inspection of meat, conditions for the manufacture of gelatine, proposed Community guides to good hygiene practice and coldstores.
Review of the hygiene legislation
The European Commission explained that a review of the hygiene legislation will take place, probably resulting in proposals emerging at the end of 2008. The Commission explained they had no definitive strategy yet, but there are currently three broad options:
The Commission is likely to favour one of the first two options and plans to engage with stakeholders early in the new year. The indication is that Member States will also be asked for their views at a meeting early in the new year. The UK does not consider that the legislation needs a major overhaul.
The Commission also explained that the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) is being asked to report any issues arising from its round of missions to Member States.
Further reports on the review of the hygiene legislation will be placed on the Agency's website.
Inspection of meat (SANCO 2696/2006 Rev 3)
The Commission explained the intention is that this document be an annexe to Commission Regulation 2074/2005, one of the food hygiene legislation implementing measures. For information, a pdf copy of SANCO 2696/2006 Rev 3 is available at the foot of the page.
The Commission explained that ‘veal calf', ‘lamb' and ‘goat kid' had been replaced by ‘young bovine/ovine/caprine animal' to bring into line with DG AGRI definitions. The definition of ‘young ovine animal' had been amended to refer to dentition.
There was much discussion among Member States about the criteria (in Article 2) for the competent authority to adapt the requirement for the official veterinarian (OV) to be present during post-mortem inspection. A risk analysis would be necessary by the competent authority to determine which slaughterhouses could benefit from this derogation. The Commission stated the proposal had been introduced at the request of FVO which had encountered different interpretations during missions to Member States, and had requested clarification. The Commission said that its intention is to reduce the costs of official controls at small slaughterhouses to preserve their financial viability (in effect its aim was to cover low-capacity establishments, without using that term).
Discussion on ‘small' and ‘discontinuous slaughter' resulted in a decision not to include these terms in the Articles of the Regulation. The UK stated that the criteria were not related to food safety risks and opposed the Commission's text. An amended version of the Article, tabled by UK , was rejected.
The Commission concluded by stating that it would add a paragraph to the Recitals, indicating that the Article was aimed at reducing the financial burden on small establishments. A further revision will be circulated for discussion at the next meeting.
The Commission outlined the European Federation's request for changes to Section XIV of Regulation 853/2004. The industry's wish was to allow for an alternative method of equivalent effect until the legislation could be changed to include a specific reference. Other updates were being sought which would bring the legislation into line with the pharmacopeia. The industry also queried the need to label product with its date of manufacture and wanted a change to the documentation requirements for raw materials.
A lack of support from some Member States with regard to the industry proposals. The Commission said that a Community Guide had been proposed but this needed to address itself to the industry rather than to Competent Authorities. The Commission Services had undertaken to produce guidance across all the relevant legislation. The Commission hoped that a Community Guide would prove the way forward and, once ready, suggested this could be considered by a restricted group of Member States.
Guides to good hygiene practice
There was agreement to restricted groups of five Member States reviewing proposed Community Guides on wholesale markets and egg products. The handling of a proposed Community Guide on coldstores will be discussed at the next Working Group.
The issue of controls in coldstores again arose and whether the Commission intended any action. The Commission stated that the problem was wider than meat alone and expressed a view that it is the responsibility of the recipient of goods to ensure that they received the correct information. The Commission also voiced DG Enterprise concerns not to increase burdens on industry.
See also: Draft Commission Regulation laying down specific rules on official controls for the inspection of meat SANCO/2696/2006 Rev 3