Food & Feed Imports: New Rules 

This Regulation, which entered into force on 16 August, establishes a list of feed and food of non-animal origin that should be subject to increased controls in order to improve food safety. It implements Regulation (EC) No 882/2004, which laid down rules on official controls of imports of feed and food of non-animal origin.

Background

Regulation (EC) No 882/2004, which this Regulation implements, established a horizontal framework for official controls by national authorities along all stages of the food and feed chain, covering food and feed safety and consumer protection, e.g. labelling. It also established:

• The need for a list to be drawn up of food of non-animal origin and feed on the basis of known or emerging risks. Products on this list should to be subject to an increased level of official controls at the point of entry.

• A requirement of Member States to designate particular points of entry, which have appropriate control facilities for the different types of feed and food.

Aim of the Proposal

This new Regulation therefore has two principal aims:
• To establish a list of feed and food of non-animal origin that will be subject to increased controls at Community level.
• To lay down requirements for the implementation of controls at the point of entry for these substances.

List of feed and food of non-animal origin

The list of products to be subject to an increased level of official controls at the point of entry has been drawn up from: 
• Notifications received through the rapid alert system for food and feed (RASFF), as established by Regulation (EC) No 178/2002.
• Reports by the Food and Veterinary Office.
• Reports received from third countries.
• Exchanges of information between the Commission, Member States and the European Food Safety Authority.
• Scientific assessments.

The Regulation stipulates that the list will be reviewed on a regular basis and at least quarterly. Examples of products on the list include dried vine fruit from Uzbekistan and bananas from the Dominican Republic. Other notable inclusions on the list are: 
• Sudan dyes:  Commission Decision 2005/402/EC laid down emergency measures regarding chilli, chilli products, curcuma and palm oil and required that all consignments of such products be accompanied by an analytical report which demonstrated that the product did not contain any Sudan dyes. As a significant improvement with regard to Sudan dyes has been observed, this Regulation repeals Commission Decision 2005/402/EC and places all products that may contain Sudan dyes on the general list.

• Aflatoxins:  Aflatoxins, like Sudan dyes, were subject to emergency provisions under a Commission Decision: Commission Decision 2006/504/EC. As an improvement has similarly been recorded for the presence of aflatoxins in products imported to Europe, these too will now be subject to the uniform and increased level of controls mandated in this Regulation. Decision 2006/504/EC will therefore be amended accordingly.

Requirements for the Implementation of Controls

This Regulation sets minimum requirements for controls at the point of entry for feed and food of non-animal origin. The aim is to ensure a degree of uniformity in the effectiveness of these controls. Minimum requirements include:

• A sufficient number of suitably qualified and experienced staff to perform the prescribed checks on consignments.
• Detailed instructions regarding sampling for analysis and the sending of such samples for analysis to a laboratory.
•  Facilities to store consignments (and containerised consignments) in appropriate conditions during the period of detention and while they are awaiting analysis.
• A designated laboratory which can perform the analyses situated at a place to which the samples can be transported within a short period of time.

This Regulation also defines the regularity and conduct of controls expected at the point of entry. These include:
• Documentary checks on all consignments within 2 working days from the time of arrival at the DPE, unless exceptional and unavoidable circumstances arise.
• Identity and physical checks, including frequent laboratory analysis in such a way that it is not possible for feed and food business operators or their representatives to predict whether any particular consignment will be subjected to such checks.

The Regulation also states that Member States should, in order to provide for increased levels of controls, require feed and food business operators responsible for consignments, to give prior notification of the arrival and nature of such consignments. Consequently the Regulation has made a model Common Entry Document (CED) available in order to ensure a common approach. Member States will also be expected to maintain and publicise an up-to-date list of designated points of entry for each of the products on the list. These will be expected to meet the requirements listed above.

Fees

The Regulation also stipulates that the methods according to which fees charged at entry are calculated should follow the criteria laid out in Annex VI of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.