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Food Safety

Health - Regulatory Committees - Standing Veterinary Committee 

Short report of the meeting (2000/19) held in Brussels on 20-21 June 2000

President: Mr. Eric Poudelet, except for points 1 and 2 : Mr. Matthew Hudson.

All the Member States were represented.

1. U.S.A. - information on developments

The Commission informed the Committee that four farms were now accredited under the Non-Hormone Treated Cattle Programme (NHTC). The Commission also said that the 100% port-of-entry testing by the EU on shipments of U.S. beef exported to the EU was under consideration within the Commission services. However, at the present time there was no draft Decision.

The Commission also distributed copies of the exchange of correspondence with the U.S. authorities concerning intended audits by U.S. inspectors to verify, in relation to meat and poultry, continuing equivalence with U.S. import requirements. The Commission had received no advance notification of the intended audits from the competent authorities in the U.S.A. The Commission stressed that, in accordance with the Veterinary Agreement, these audits are to be organised through the Commission.

2. Australia: (1) information in response to Commission correspondence and (2) two-monthly progress report in relation to implementation follow-up (fresh meat)

The Commission distributed copies of the exchange of correspondence with the Australian authorities. The Commission's representative outlined what preceded. In 1998, an FVO inspection showed deficiencies with respect to the production of fresh meat in Australia to be exported to the EU. Subsequent upon the recommendations formulated in the inspection report, Australia submitted a proposal addressing outstanding issues. The Commission is now monitoring, through two monthly reports, progress on the implementation of the assurances given by the Australian authorities. As regards certification, Australia gave all the guarantees asked for and in relation to identification of animals, a system was put in place. Some issues remain to be solved but the progress made is very substantial. A new mission is scheduled for November 2000.

The Commission also distributed a proposal entitled "Draft Commission Decision amending Decision 97/569/EC on drawing up provisional lists of third country establishments from which the Member States authorise imports of meat products" (Doc. Sanco/1916/2000). The aim of the draft Decision is to add to the list 4 establishments in Australia. It was to be put to the vote at the next SVC.

3. Exchange of views of the Committee on the evolution of animal diseases in the Community:

BSE

France

The French delegation gave an overview of the epidemiological situation. From 483 suspect cases, 100 domestic cases were confirmed. The delegate also presented a new pilot testing programme. This monitoring programme has two purposes: (1) provide better information of the situation for better knowledge of the disease and (2) compare the rapid test with the standard tests. France also provided information about new legislation to accompany the testing programme.

Ireland

The Irish delegation distributed an update report and gave an overview of the epidemiological situation. 483 BSE cases were confirmed, up until 01/06/2000. The age profile shows a majority of 5-6 year old animals. The delegate also presented a 4-point control plan:

1. Removal of potentially infected material from any food or feed chain

2. Control of MMBM to prevent cross contamination of ruminant feedstuffs

3. Removal of cohort animals

4. Removal of progeny animals

Belgium

The Belgian delegation distributed an update report and gave an overview of the epidemiological situation. A total of 14 cases have been confirmed, 2 of which the date of birth of the animals was after 27/07/1994 (feed ban). The delegate indicated that a meticulous epidemiological inquiry was carried out in the farms. All ascendants, cohorts or descendants from the affected animal were killed. Vertical contamination could be excluded.

United Kingdom

The presentation by the United Kingdom was postponed.

4. Information on a mission carried out in Denmark concerning TSE - presentation of the mission report (doc. Sanco/1125/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objectives of the mission were to verify compliance with

- Commission Decision 98/272/EC (on epidemio-surveillance for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) especially as regards BSE;

- Council Regulation 820/97/EC (on the identification and registration of animals);

- Commission Directive 97/47/EC (labelling of feeding stuffs comprising protein derived from mammalian tissue);

- Commission Decision 94/381/EC (feed-ban);

- Commission Directive 98/88/EC (establishing guidelines for the microscopic identification and estimation of constituents of animal origin for the official control of feeding stuffs);

- Commission Decision 97/735/EC concerning trade in certain types of mammalian waste.

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

5. Information on a mission carried out in Italy concerning TSE - presentation of the mission report (doc. Sanco/1024/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objectives of the mission were to verify compliance with

- Commission Decision 98/272/EC (on epidemio-surveillance for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) especially as regards BSE;

- Council Regulation 820/97/EC (on the identification and registration of animals);

- Commission Directive 97/47/EC (labelling of feeding stuffs comprising protein derived from mammalian tissue);

- Commission Decision 94/381/EC (feed-ban);

- Commission Directive 98/88/EC (establishing guidelines for the microscopic identification and estimation of constituents of animal origin for the official control of feeding stuffs);

- To assess the national rules on SRM as regards implementation in practice.

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

6. Information on a mission carried out in the United Kingdom concerning TSE - presentation of the mission report (doc. Sanco/1230/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The purpose of the mission was:

- to assess the implementation of the operational DBES, including a follow-up of the mission carried out in April 1999;

- to follow-up on the urgent missions in May 1999 with particular reference to the action plan as agreed between the UK authorities and the Commission services following those missions. In particular it had to be verified if the actions taken are sufficient to correct the APHIS database as described in the ECHS;

- to collect information on the storage and destruction of MMBM produced in particular under the Over Thirty Month Scheme (OTMS)

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

7. Exchange of views on veterinary checks of imported casing

The German delegation put the following problem to the meeting. Decision 1999/120/EC draws up a provisional list of third country establishments from which the Member States authorise imports of animal casings. The delegate indicated that Germany applied 100% checks for consignments coming from these establishments, considering the provisional character of this list. However, Germany had learned that one Member State applied a reduced frequency of physical checks, based on Decision 94/360/EC 1 . The German representative requested the Commission to elucidate this issue in order to ensure uniform application of the relevant legislation in all the border inspection posts.

8. Information on a mission to Poland from 31 January to 4 February 2000 concerning the production and export to the European Union of game and rabbit meat - presentation of the mission report (doc DG(Sanco)/1018/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objective of the mission was to assess the implementation, by the Polish authorities, of Community rules in the production and export to the EU of game and rabbit meat. The mission also wanted to verify the certification conditions put in place.

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

9. Information on a mission carried out in Hungary from 31 January to 4 February 2000 in order to evaluate certain controls in fresh meat (porcine) establishments - presentation of the mission report (doc. DG(Sanco)/1022/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objective of the mission was to evaluate the controls on fresh meat (porcine) establishments, including the performance of trichinae controls. In addition the mission was also to evaluate the controls concerning animal welfare aspects.

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

10. Information on a mission carried out in Hungary from 28 February to 3 March 2000 in relation to the production of meat products, meat preparations, minced meat and casings - presentation of the mission report (doc. DG(Sanco)/1049/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objective of the mission was to assess the performance of the competent authority in four specified food products sectors (meat products, minced meat, meat preparations and casings) taking into account the findings of previous missions.

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

11. Information on a mission carried out in Greece from 27 to 31 March 2000 in order to evaluate the application of Council Directive 92/46/EEC laying down the health rules for the production and placing on the market of milk and milk-based products - presentation of the mission report (doc. DG(Sanco)/1063/2000)

Postponed.

12. Information on a mission carried out in St. Vincent and The Grenadines from 31 January to 4 February 2000 concerning assessment of conditions of production of fishery products - presentation of the mission report (doc. DG Sanco/1040/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objective of the mission was to carry out an evaluation of the system of control of fishery products originating in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and intended for export to the EC, with a view to deciding whether the country can be added to part I of the list of third countries approved for export to the EC, included on the Annex of Commission Decision 97/296/EC 2 .

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

13. Information on a mission carried out in Grenada from 8 to 11 February 2000 concerning assessment of conditions of production of fishery products - presentation of the mission report (doc. DG (Sanco/1041/2000)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objective of the mission was to carry out an evaluation of the system of control of fishery products originating in Grenada and intended for export to the EC, with a view to deciding whether the country can be added to part I of the list of third countries approved for export to the EC, included on the Annex of Commission Decision 97/296/EC.

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

14. Information on a mission carried out in Iran from 15 to 26 November 1999 concerning assessment of conditions of production of fishery products - presentation of the mission report (doc. DG (Sanco/1125/1999)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objective of the mission was to carry out an evaluation of the system of control of fishery products originating in the Islamic Republic of Iran and intended for export to the EC, with a view to deciding whether the country can be added to part I of the list of third countries approved for export to the EC, included on the Annex of Commission Decision 97/296/EC.

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

15. Information on a mission carried out in Venezuela from 22 to 30 March 1999 concerning assessment of conditions of production of fishery products - presentation of the mission report (doc. DG (Sanco/1071/1999)

The Commission presented the mission report and reported on the main findings. The objective of the mission was to carry out an evaluation of the system of control of fishery products originating in Venezuela and intended for export to the EC, with a view to deciding whether the country can be added to part I of the list of third countries approved for export to the EC, included on the Annex of Commission Decision 97/296/EC.

In addition, compliance with Council Directive 91/492/EEC 3 was checked with a view to evaluating the possibility of inclusion of Venezuela in any of the lists of Commission Decision 97/20/EC 4 .

The Commission presented the conclusions and formulated a number of recommendations.

16. Information - presentation of FVO mission programme July - December 2000

The Commission (FVO) distributed and presented the outline mission programme for July-December 2000 (Doc. Sanco/1019/2000-Rev.2).

17. Information by the Belgian delegation of the situation concerning the contamination of animal feed by the PCBs

The Belgian delegation distributed and presented an updated report on the contamination of animal feed by PCBs, detected in one feed manufacturing plant. The delegate explained that thanks to the CONSUM programme the contamination had been detected in a very early stage. This led to an immediate reaction of the Belgian authorities, taking measures to prevent contamination in the food chain. He concluded that there had been no risk for public health and stressed that what preceded demonstrated the need for a harmonised monitoring system.

The source of the contamination had not been identified.

18. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision modifying Commission Decision 2000/159/EC on the provisional approval fo residue plans of Third Countries according to Council Directive 96/23/EC (doc Sanco/1813/2000)

According to Council Directive 96/23/EC 5 , third countries should provide to the Commission their residue monitoring plan for the current year and results from the previous year. The Directive also requires that the Commission approves these monitoring plans and draws up a list with countries complying with the provisions of the Directive. To date, the Commission received monitoring plans, results, or information from a number of third countries. Other third countries have sent no information or totally insufficient information. The list of third countries complying with Directive 96/23/EC (see Decision 2000/159/EC) should be updated accordingly deleting third countries from which no information is available, and third countries which do not export animals or animal products to the EU. The Commission distributed a comparative updated list with the list provided in the Annex of Decision 2000/159/EC.

The draft Decision proposes such an updated provisional list of third countries complying with Directive 96/23/EC.

The vote was postponed.

19. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Decision 97/467/EC on drawing up provisional lists of Third Country establishments from which the Member States authorise imports of rabbit meat and farmed game meat (doc. Sanco/1282/2000)

The purpose of the draft Decision was to draw up a provisional list of establishments in Slovenia authorised to export rabbit meat and farmed game meat to the EU and for which the Slovenian authorities have certified that the establishments are in accordance with Community rules.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

20. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision for purchase by the Community of bluetongue vaccine for emergency stock (doc. Sanco/1481/2000 - rev.1)

It had been decided by Decision 2000/292/EC 6 to set up a bank of 500.000 doses of bluetongue vaccine. As the available vaccine is an attenuated one, scientists have been consulted on the risk of the use of that type of vaccine and the conclusion was that it is not suitable to introduce in an ecosystem serotypes which do not already exist or do not represent a direct threat.

On that base it appeared necessary to set up two different banks. One with vaccine containing the serotypes present in Greece (4, 9, 16) in order to face an emergency situation in this area, the other with a vaccine containing only the serotype 2 in case of invasion from northern Africa.

The purpose of the proposal was to set up those two banks of 500.000 doses each and to repeal Decision 2000/292/EC.

Vote: 72 votes in favour; 15 abstentions.

21. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Decision 2000/350/EC on epidemiological surveillance of bluetongue in Greece and certain measures to prevent the spread of the disease (doc Sanco/1735/2000)

The aim of the proposal was to provide financial compensation for the farmers for the purchase of fodder when they are not in the situation to move, as they are used to do, their animals to summer pastures because of the restrictions to movements provided in Decision 2000/350/EC.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

22. Exchange of views on a draft Commission Decision on control on listeria monocytogenes for certain categories of ready-to-eat food of animal origin (Sanco/594/2000-rev. 2)

The Commission distributed and presented the above proposal for study and observation. The Commission explained that Listeria monocytogenes (L.m.) is a ubiquitous pathogen bacterium known to cause foodborne outbreaks of listeriosis in humans. It has potentially fatal consequences in particular for susceptible categories of the population. In 1998, 13 Member States reported a total of 657 human cases.

On 23 September 1999, the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health, upon request of the Commission, issued an opinion on the risk to health from the presence of L.m. at different levels in ready-to-eat food. The draft Decision presented has been prepared in the light of the above scientific opinion. It is based on articles in certain Council Directives on health conditions for placing food of animal origin on the market. It allows the Commission to lay down specific provisions in relation to own-health checks to be performed by food business operators, who are recognised as having the primary responsibility for safe food production. The draft decision aims at reinforcing control on Listeria monocytogenes for certain categories of ready-to-eat food of animal origin.

The elements of the decision were presented. Three Member States had some comments.The Member States were requested to forward their comments.

23. Exchange of views on a draft Commission Decision laying down animal and public health conditions and veterinary certificates for imports of farmed ratite meat and amending Commission Decision 96/659/EC on protective measures in relation to crimean congo haemorrhagic fever (doc. Sanco/2947/1999-rev. 6)

The Commission distributed and presented the above proposal for information. The Member States were requested to forward possible remarks.

The animal and public health requirements for the import of farmed ratite meat from third countries to the Community are not yet harmonised and currently based on bilateral agreements between the importing Member State and the exporting third country. The purpose of this Decision is to lay down harmonised animal and public health requirements and the certification for ratite meat and to draw up a list of third countries allowed using these certificates.

The draft Decision is to be put to the vote at a next SVC.

24. Miscellaneous

1. The Commission provided updated information in relation to the contamination with hepatitis A in Spain caused by eating clams from Peru. The clams came from the same establishment, which had delivered cockles in October causing a previous infection. The Commission informed about the contact with the Peruvian authorities and reported about the information and the guarantees received from this authority, which identified the water used in the establishment for the depuration of the bivalve molluscs, as the source of contamination, furthermore Peruvian authorities have suspended the exports from this establishment. In the light of the guarantees received (suspension of the establishment) and the co-operative response of Peru, the Commission concluded that there was no need for further measures.

2. Italy drew attention to difficulties encountered since the entry into force of Decision 1999/724/EC 7 . The gelatine manufacturers have problems getting sufficient supply of raw materials (essentially skins) because the consignments are not accompanied with the required commercial documents confirming that animals had ante and post mortem inspection. Consequently, the veterinary services are not allowing skins to be used without the documents in compliance with the Decision. The Commission invited the Member States to verify the problem, which it believed to be of purely commercial nature. If the enquiry demonstrated clear difficulties to implement the Decision, the Commission would try to work towards a solution. The Commission agreed to further discuss the issue at the SVC of 04-05 July 2000.

3. The Commission revoked the information given at SVC 2000/15 of 11/05/2000 (Miscellaneous - point (2)) as regards rice pudding. The product concerned is compounded of 87% milk powder and 13% rice, and is therefore to be considered as a milk product falling under Directive 92/46/EEC 8 .

4. The Commission distributed a copy of a letter concerning detained New Zealand containers in the ports of Piraeus (Greece) and Bilbao (Spain)

5. The Commission presented the report of a mission carried out in the Czech Republic from 3 to 7 May 1999. The scope of the mission was to audit the competent authority and to assess the conditions of production and export of fishery products and live fish intended for direct human consumption (Doc. Sanco/1089/99)

N.B. The proposals on which the Committee expressed an opinion are subject to a defined procedure in relation to the formal adoption by the Commission.

Mission reports are available on the Internet at the following address:

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1 94/360/EC: Commission Decision of 20 May 1994 on the reduced frequency of physical checks of consignments of certain products to be implemented from third countries, under Council Directive 90/675/EEC

2 97/296/EC: Commission Decision of 22 April 1997 drawing up the list of third countries from which the import of fishery products is authorized for human consumption

3 Council Directive 91/492/EEC of 15 July 1991 laying down the health conditions for the production and the placing on the market of live bivalve molluscs

4 97/20/EC: Commission Decision of 17 December 1996 establishing the list of third countries fulfilling the equivalence conditions for the production and placing on the market of bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods

5 Council Directive 96/23/EC of 29 April 1996 on measures to monitor certain substances and residues thereof in live animals and animal products and repealing Directives 85/358/EEC and 86/469/EEC and Decisions 89/187/EEC and 91/664/EEC

6 2000/292/EC: Commission Decision of 6 April 2000 for purchase by the Community of bluetongue vaccine for emergency stock

7 1999/724/EC: Commission Decision of 28 October 1999 amending Annex II to Council Directive 92/118/EEC laying down animal health and public health requirements governing trade in and imports into the Community of products not subject to the said requirements laid down in specific Community rules referred to in Annex A (I) to Directive 89/662/EEC and, as regards pathogens, to Directive 90/425/EEC

8 Council Directive 92/46/EEC of 16 June 1992 laying down the health rules for the production and placing on the market of raw milk, heat-treated milk and milk-based products

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