Food Law News - UK - 2001

FSA Web Site, 3 July 2001

Food and Veterinary Office Reports on the UK - Official UK responses now available

Background: The EU's Food and Veterinary Office routinely visit countries to assess compliance with EU agree standards. Two recent visits to the UK have resulted in reports containing certain criticisms: The reports can be found on the Commission's pages at:

The FSA have made available copies of letters from the government to the EU relating to the reports of these visits. Copies of the text is given below. Further details can be found on the FSA web site at:

MAFF Letter, 5 April 2001

Mission Reference Number: DG (SANCO)/1196/2000) : FVO Mission to the United Kingdom from 21-25 August 2000 Concerning Controls on Poultry Meat Production

Further to my letter of 5 March acknowledging receipt of your letter of 21 February enclosing the final report on the above (ref. no DG(SANCO)1196/2000 - MR Final), I am writing with the United Kingdom's response.

The United Kingdom has noted the points which the Food and Veterinary team has drawn attention to in the report, and our comments and an action plan on measures requiring further attention are noted in the annex attached. The UK will submit its first progress report on these measures in October 2001.

The UK supports the proposals in the EU Food Hygiene Regulations and Official Controls, which recognises that certain areas of the existing meat hygiene rules are unrealistic and impractical, whereas it is arguable whether others achieve a high level of public health protection. The UK Government is committed to ensuring the protection of public health and the safety of food, and is actively pursuing measures to meet this commitment. The Food Standards Agency, as one of the UK competent authorities responsible for the implementation of meat hygiene legislation, launched two initiatives last year which will involve the poultry meat industry - these are:

The UK firmly believes that measures such as these will play a major part in ensuring the protection of consumers, which the Commission and Member States are seeking to achieve in the review of the existing Food Hygiene legislation.

DEFRA Letter, June 2001

Inspection Mission to the UK Carried out between 15-19 January 2001 in Order to Evaluate the Operation of Controls Over the Production of Meat Products, Minced Meat and Meat Preparations - Mission Ref: Dg(Sanco)/3175/2001

"Further to my letter of 14 May 2001, acknowledging receipt of the Final Report (ref. no DG(SANCO) 3175/2001 - MR Final), relating to the EU Mission from 15 -19 January, I enclose the United Kingdom's Action Plan requested by the FVO in Recommendation 8 of the Final Report. The UK is grateful to the FVO for extending the deadline for the submission of our Action Plan.

"The Action Plan sets out, against each of the points raised by the FVO, the action we intend to take, where we believe no action is required and why, and where further clarification from the FVO would be welcome. The large number of individual issues relating to UK transposition of the Directives raised under recommendation 8.1.1 are dealt with in detail in the Annex. The Action Plan also sets out the proposed timetable.

"The UK notes with regret that the Final Report maintains as one of its overall conclusions - paragraph 6.5 - that the production of meat products, minced meat and meat preparations for the national market "gives rise to serious concern" without clarifying what the FVO means by "serious concern". In our response to the draft report dated 30 March we asked for those words to be deleted on the grounds that the findings of the mission, in our view, did not support that conclusion. It is unfortunate that our concerns have not been acknowledged, at least by footnote, in your Final Report. At the closing meeting with UK officials on 19 January, your inspectors assured us that their findings did not give them cause for concern about the level of public health protection in the UK in respect of meat products, minced meat and meat preparations production. The use of the term "serious concern" seems to contradict this. Indeed, reports in the UK media (The Guardian, 15 June) have concluded that the FVO findings do point to safety concerns. I am sure you will appreciate the potential that unqualified statements of this nature have for causing unnecessary alarm among consumers.

"Officials of the UK Food Standards Agency would, of course, be happy to meet FVO colleagues to clarify any points in the Action Plan."

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