Commission proposes toughened food and feed controls

The Commission has released a legislative proposal containing new general rules for food and feed controls, which aims at curing weaknesses in current legislation and sets out tougher enforcement mechanisms.

On 5 February, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation on official food and feed controls, which aims at streamlining and reinforcing the existing control system by adding stricter enforcement mechanisms. The new Regulation would replace three Directives currently in force in this area.

The new proposal on food and feed controls is one of the key follow-up measures announced in the White Paper on Food Safety. Based on the proposal, the Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) would continue to audit the control systems in the Member States and verify their efficiency. In addition, the FVO would continue to audit the compliance or equivalence of third country legislation and control systems with EU rules. The focus of the FVO would shift however, from focusing on individual production establishments towards evaluating at all stages of production and in all sectors the overall operation of national control systems.

The proposal introducescriminal sanctionsfor cases of non-compliance with EU feed and food law internationally. Within the EU Member States, if a Member State's control system proves to be inadequate, the Commission could take interim measures, which includes suspending the right to place food and feed on the market. The new proposal would significantly raise the current 3 million euro budget spent on food and feed safety controls to an annual 16 million.

The European Association of Craft, Small & Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME), a participant in the pre-communication consultation procedure, welcomed the Commission's new proposal. In particular, UEAPME was pleased with the plans regarding the calculation method of the level of fees applying to SMEs, which, in their opinion, takes into account the interests of feed and food businesses with a small turnover.

The new proposal will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council and will be adopted under the codecision procedure.


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