Food Law News - UK - 2005


FSA News Item, 26 September 2005

OFFICIAL CONTROL - Fourth update on applying EU feed and food controls regulation

An update on the progress since August 2005 on the measures being taken to apply EU Regulation 882/2004 on official controls in the UK has been published by the Agency.

Introduction

This update provides important information about the new national legislation being introduced in the UK to apply EU Regulation 882/2004 on official controls - the Official Feed and Food Controls ( England) Regulations 2005 and the parallel legislation for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This concerns the provisions on import controls of feed and food of non-animal origin imported from third countries and, in particular, those relating to 'high risk' products.

The update also highlights that a full public consultation is taking place on a proposed amendment to the national legislation that will be needed to reflect new implementing rules under EU Regulation 882/2004 relating to publication of lists of approved establishments and a transitional period for accreditation of laboratories.

Import controls

Background

EU Regulation 882/2004 introduces harmonised rules for third country imports of feed and food of non-animal origin (non-POAO). For those considered ‘high risk’, the requirements are to be similar to those that currently apply to animal products (importers will be required to pre-notify the relevant enforcement authority of the arrival of consignments and will be required to import these via specific designated ports). EU implementing rules are to be established to identify these 'high risk' products and to specify the level of controls that these should be subject to. Mandatory fees for these controls are to be considered at the same time.

The proposed national implementing legislation on which we consulted earlier this year anticipated that the EU list of 'high risk' products would have been available by now. It, therefore, included provisions requiring importers to give prior notification to the enforcement authorities of the arrival of consignments and requiring that these must be routed via designated UK ports. It also provided a mechanism for charging fees for these import controls.

Current developments

Although the Commission indicated last year that the implementing rules on 'high risk' products was a priority area and despite continued pressure from the UK, no proposals have yet been issued and are not now expected until October at the earliest. Consequently, these measures are very unlikely to be in place, as had been expected, by 1 January 2006. We cannot legislate at the national level until the EU rules are in place so it will not be possible at this stage to include the proposed measures in the national legislation as had been anticipated. Nonetheless, in the light of the comments offered during the consultation, it is proposed that once the list of products has been agreed in Brussels, the national legislation will be amended to include them.

In the meantime, current safeguard measures will continue to apply and further measures may be introduced under the provisions of the EU General Food Law Regulation (178/2002) such that public and animal health protection will not be compromised by the delay.

Implementing rules on publication of lists of approved establishments and accreditation of laboratories

Background

The second and third updates provided background information on these measures. These are concerned with the format of, and the details that should be included in the list of approved establishments that Member States will be required to publish under Regulation 882/2004. They also introduce a four year transitional period for feed laboratories to meet the accreditation requirements of Regulation 882/2004. The proposed Commission Regulations that includes these are expected to be adopted at a meeting of the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) on 23 September 2005. See the draft Regulations (SANCO 2535/2005 and SANCO 2536/2005).

Changes to national legislation

Although these measure themselves will be applied in the UK by administrative means, the introduction of these EU implementing rules means that the definition of Regulation 882/2004 in the Official Feed and Food Controls (England) Regulations 2005 and the parallel legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will need to be revised to take account of them. This will be achieved by amending the definition in the list of Community legalisation cited in Schedule 1.

Full public consultation is taking place on this proposed amendment as part of a wider consultation on application of the new EU implementing rules and changes to the national legislation on food hygiene. See the full consultation package for England.


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