FSA Update Report, 23 January 2007
An update on the progress since March 2006 on the measures being taken to apply EU Regulation 882/2004 on official controls in the UK has been published by the Agency.
This update includes information on the UK 's first national control plan (NCP) and on progress towards implementing the provisions on financing of official controls in Regulation 882/2004. It also provides information on on-going work at EU level. This includes the development of various European Commission guidelines, the establishment of implementing rules for import controls for 'high-risk' feed and food products of non-animal origin (non-POAO), and on the Commission's ‘Better Training for Safer Food' initiative.
UK National Control Plan
As described in the seventh update, Regulation 882/2004 requires each Member State (MS) to have a NCP in place by 1 January 2007. The purpose is to ensure effective implementation of official controls, and will, in the future, be used as the basis of assessment of the performance of national control systems by the European Commission's Inspection Services. See the UK 's first NCP, published in December 2006.
Financing of official controls
The Agency is now taking work forward to implement the financing provisions of Regulation 882/2004 which apply from 1 January 2007 and, in particular, in respect of Article 28. This requires that the competent authorities charge feed or food business operators for expenses arising from control activities which are undertaken following the detection of non-compliance and that exceed the competent authority's normal control activities, i.e. 'additional official controls'. The Agency is currently considering the policy options for doing so and will undertake a full public consultation in due course.
European Commission guidelines
As highlighted in previous updates, the Commission had been developing guidelines on different aspects of application of Regulation 882/2004. Progress on these is as follows:
Implementing rules for import controls for 'high-risk' non-POAO feed and food
Discussions at EU level on these implementing rules are now underway, and the Agency recently sent out a letter to interested parties seeking their initial views on the key issues that have arisen. The responses to this will help inform the UK 's negotiating position for the next meeting in Brussels which is in early February 2007. See a copy of the letter at: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/nonpoaoletter.pdf . The Agency will undertake full public consultation once the Commission issues its formal proposals.
‘Better Training for Safer Food'
Regulation 882/2004 on official controls allows the Commission to develop training programmes for staff of the competent authorities of the MSs and non-EU countries. This is being taken forward under its 'Better Training for Safer Food' strategy. The objectives are to improve the consistency and effectiveness of controls within MSs and across the EU, and to provide safeguards to consumers. The scope of the strategy extends to feed and food, animal health and welfare and plant health controls. A programme of courses under the strategy was on-going during 2006. These have been delivered under contract by training providers and have covered issues such as auditing of food safety management systems. Around 1,500 officials from MSs (including the UK ) and non-EU countries have participated.
The Commission has now issued a Communication to the Council and European Parliament setting out options for the organisation and management of training programmes under the strategy for 2007 and beyond. It favours doing so by extending the mandate of its Executive Agency for the Public Health Programme. A cost-benefit analysis is to be conducted before any decision is made, and MSs are to be kept informed of progress. See further details of the ‘Better Training for Safer Food' strategy, including the recent Communication on the European Commission website at: http://ec.europa.eu/food/training/index_en.htm