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Food Controls - Introduction

The Commission announced in its White Paper on Food Safety pdf that it would prepare a proposal for a new and integrated approach towards official food and feed control in the European Union. The proposed Regulation 2003/52/EC pdf was adopted by the Commission on 5 February 2003. It establishes a clear EU framework for a control system, in which the respective responsibilities of the Member States and the Commission are systematically set out. It takes into account the general principle that all parts of the food production chain must be subject to official controls. Furthermore, it provides for a common approach with regard to controls on imports of food and feed from third countries.

The current control system will continue to apply until the new system enters into force, foreseen in January 2005. At that time, the following Directives that are currently in place will be repealed and replaced by the provisions of the new Regulation N° 70/373/EEC (sampling and analysis – official control of feedingstuffs), N° 95/53/EEC (official inspections – animal nutrition), N° 89/397/EEC and N° 93/99/EC (official control of foodstuffs).

Council Directive N° 89/397/EEC of 14 June 1989 on the official control of foodstuffs and Council Directive N° 93/99/EEC of 29 October 1999 on the subject of additional measures concerning the official controls of foodstuffs currently set out the general rules for food controls. They lay down the principles that must be applied by the control services in the Member States to ensure compliance of foodstuffs in general, as well as products such as food additives, vitamins, mineral salts, or material intended to come into contact with foodstuffs. They furthermore define the rules on the organisation of the official control programmes in the Member States, the sampling and analysis, and the setting of quality standards for laboratories carrying out official controls.

Council Directive N° 95/53/EC of 25 October 1995 fixes the principles governing the organisation of official controls in the field of animal nutrition. The main purpose of this Directive is to harmonise official controls carried out by the Member States’ competent authorities as regards both trade within the EU and imports. Council Directive N° 70/33/EC empowers the Commission to establish methods of analysis for the purpose of checking compliance with quality and compositional requirements of feed.

At present, a comprehensive set of rules applies to the controls of food and feed of animal origin. These include Council Directive N° 89/662/EEC of 11 December 1989 concerning veterinary checks in intra-Community trade with a view to the completion of the internal market and Council Directive N° 97/78/EC pdf of 18 December 1997 laying down the principles governing the organisation of veterinary checks on products entering the EU from third countries. These rules will remain in place since they are very specifically designed for the organisation of the official controls on feed and food of animal origin.

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