Food Law News - UK - 2007

FSA Local Authorities Letter (ENF/E/07/032), 24 May 2007

HYGIENE - Application of EU hygiene rules in the dairy sector

It is now around 6 months since I last wrote to you (Ref: ENF/E/06/068) concerning an imminent audit by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission. That audit provisionally concluded that the UK had in general responded to the FVO's earlier recommendations, but that continuing work is needed to actively verify implementation of all requirements in all establishments. The FVO has not yet published its final report of that Mission .

The FVO is due to return to the UK in October of this year, and we will need to demonstrate that hygiene controls in the UK dairy sector operate effectively.

Cheese recovery

For a copy of the guidance document, see Cheese Guidance. For the previous letters, see

Last year, the Food Standards Agency asked enforcement authorities to identify and notify us of any cheese recovery operations in their area and ensure that the activities are approved under the terms of Regulation (EC) No 853/2004.

I now enclose guidance on cheese recovery which aims to assist the UK dairy industry and local authorities ensure that cheese recovery is carried out in accordance with the food hygiene legislation. The guidance was developed by the Agency in conjunction with Dairy UK Ltd and relevant food authority and industry stakeholders. The guidance was also informed by information on some of the handling and manufacturing processes employed by companies who use recovered cheese as a raw material. As this is the first time we have issued guidance in this area, we would be grateful for feedback on any problems with its use or issues arising in practice that are not covered by the guidance.

A copy of the cheese recovery guidance is also being sent to all the companies we were notified as being approved to undertake cheese recovery.

Antibiotic testing of milk

The Decision (Decision 2006/694/EC) adopted by the European Commission in October 2006 necessitated the revised approach to the control of milk containing antibiotic residues set out in my previous letter. Since, under the Code of Practice, approved dairy establishments are required to be visited twice a year, all will have received an inspection at which operation of the revised approach will have been verified. If this is not the case, an inspection should take place as soon as possible.

Interface milk

(Note: Typically, this ‘interface milk' is used to describe a mixture of milk and potable water that derives from the start up and close down procedures for pasteurisation equipment. Such milk is suitable for processing, but its water content precludes its use for the liquid milk market.)

My previous letter also highlighted the need for food business operators to be able to demonstrate that interface milk is fit for purpose and does not contain contaminants carried over from cleaning operations. This must be appropriately addressed by the HACCP procedures and related documents and records should indicate how the controls are operated and verified. Both suppliers and users of interface milk will need to contribute to effective controls in this regard.

Bursting of milk cartons/containers

Any activity involving the removal of milk from cartons or other packages (whether by mechanical or other means) for subsequent processing into food intended for human consumption must be undertaken hygienically and in accordance with the regulations. HACCP procedures must demonstrate how microbiological, physical and chemical hazards are controlled and how the controls are verified.

My earlier letter requested that the Agency should be notified if any food businesses are undertaking operations involving the bursting of cartons/containers. This was in order that we could take steps to assure the FVO that any such activities are appropriately controlled. We have not received any such notifications, if you do identify that a food business operator is undertaken this operation please inform the Food Standards Agency.

The information in this letter is being distributed to enforcement authorities across the UK and industry interests are being informed simultaneously.


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