How does the DG Health and Food Safety achieve this?
A team of some 170 professionals from most EU Member States conduct audits or inspections to ensure the national authorities are fulfilling their legal obligations. This can be done during on-the-spot audits, or by desk based exercises or collation of Member States data. The audit focuses on the control system rather than individual premises and it culminates in a written report. You can find reports for both Member States and non-EU countries by clicking on Audit reports or on the interactive map.
Who decides which countries to visit?
On the basis of a multi-annual programme, each year DG Health and Food Safety publishes a work programme. This is produced in consultation with other Commission services and in consultation with Member States. It considers risk and trade factors, plus the status of legislation, to prioritise visits. The programme provides a balance between EU Member States and non-EU countries.
What happens during an audit?
The audit team is typically composed of two auditors, often with the presence of a national expert from a Member State authority. Gathering information prior to the audit (by sending out an audit plan) and pre-audit questionnaire the team arranges an audit programme that will typically visit the control authority, a number of regional and local authorities, laboratories and a number of accompanied site visits (e.g. to farms, processors, feed units, slaughterhouses and retailers). The information is gathered to provide a series of findings which are presented at a closing meeting.
What if the audit identifies deficiences?
Audit reports may make recommendations to assist the competent authorities in taking corrective measures. The actions taken are followed up either admininstratively, in general follow-up audits in Member States, or by on-the-spot audits.
If non-compliances are sufficiently serious, stronger actions may be taken by the European Commission in agreement with Member States, these include legal action, restrictions or even bans on the movement of goods or animals.
What else is done?
As well as the individual audit reports DG Health and Food Safety produces overview reports which are discussed with stakeholders to help with implementation, or may help in the production or review of legislation. These reports may also be used in training sessions, mainly in the framework of the BTSF (Better Training for Safer Food).
There are also a number of significant non-audit activities carried out, which are explained under Non-audit activities.