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Food Safety

Health - Regulatory Committees - Standing Veterinary Committee 

Short report of the meeting (2000/21) held in Brussels on 18 July 2000

President: Mr. Eric Poudelet for points 1, 4, 6 to 8, and 17.

Mr. Jens Nymand Christensen for points 2, 9 to 12, and 16

Points 3, 5 and 13 to 15 were transferred to the Animal health SVC to be held on 19/07/2000

All the Member States were represented.

1. Exchange of views of the Committee on the evolution of animal diseases in the Community: BSE - United Kingdom

The UK delegation distributed and presented an update report as at 30 June 2000 and gave an overview of the epidemiological situation. Since 1998, a total of 176.975 have been confirmed. Statistics revealed that the epidemic peaked in 1992 (36680 cases) and 1993 (34370 cases) and that the number of positives was in steady decline since then. To date, 632 cases have been confirmed in 2000.

It also presented an update on the results of the epidemiological investigations into the origins of the first BSE case in an animal born after 1 August 1996 (date for the effective implementation of the feed ban). The results so far indicate that neither feed borne nor maternal transmission can be excluded. In response to questions from Member States and the Commission it replied that investigations into other sources of infection are ongoing but have not yielded any clear data.

The CVO from Northern Ireland provided separate information as regards the region. The delegate drew attention to the low incidence and highlighted the decline in the number of cases since 1995.

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

The Commission announced that the 1 st USA/EC Joint Management Committee under the Equivalence Agreement would take place on 27-28 July 2000 in Washington. Upon request of the Italian delegation, the Commission confirmed that the issue in relation to intended US inspection missions, including residue checks, would be tabled at the meeting.

3. Information on a mission carried out in The Netherlands from 2 to 4 May 2000 to investigate the appearance of sudden deaths and "wasting cattle" in a number of dairy herds in The Netherlands and to evaluate the actions taken in response to this problem - presentation of the mission report (doc. DG(Sanco)/1169/2000)

The point was transferred to the agenda of the Animal health-SVC to be held on 19.07.2000.

4. 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 (doc. DG(Sanco)/1063/2000)

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 transposition and application of Commission Directive 89/362/EEC on general conditions of hygiene in milk production holdings and Council Directive 92/46/EEC laying down the health rules for the production and placing on the market of raw milk, heat-treated milk and milk-based products in Greece. This evaluation was based on the performance of the official services and laboratories in charge of the application of these Directives.

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

5. Preliminary oral report on the situation in relation to newcastle disease in Italy (Sanco/1195/2000)

The point was transferred to the agenda of the Animal health-SVC to be held on 19.07.2000.

6. Information to Member States on presentation of FVO reports to the SVC

The Commission distributed and presented an information note concerning presentation of FVO mission reports in the Standing Veterinary Committee. Some Member States formulated some remarks.

7. Information of the Member States concerning fraud with butter in Italy (Italian, French and Belgian delegations)

The Italian, French and Belgian delegations reported on the fraud with butter in Italy. The Italian delegate said that the judicial authorities had undertaken enquiry and that these authorities had seized the products concerned. At this time, no hard information was available, considering the secrecy of the judicial investigation. The Italian authorities were awaiting information related to the screening of the products. The delegate could only confirm the presence of foreign substances in the butter. The Belgian delegation said to have been informed about an investigation concerning the butter fraud. The analyses of the first wave of samples taken seem to confirm the fraud. Toxicological investigation was being carried out. France also said to be waiting for the results of the analyses, which were currently being carried out.

The Commission urged the three Member States concerned to quickly shed light on the issue, in particular in relation to the composition of the product and to the potential risk for the consumers.

8. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee 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)

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. The draft decision aims at reinforcing control on Listeria monocytogenes for certain categories of ready-to-eat food of animal origin.

The Commission had received written comments from only two Member States, following the previous SVC meeting. These remarks had been taken account to a certain extent in the proposal presented. However, it appeared from the views expressed by further Member States, that the draft Decision needed further in-depth discussion. In the light of this conclusion, the Commission announced that one ore more working groups would be organised.

9. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending the health certification for fishery products from or originating in Uganda (doc Sanco/1950/2000-rev. 1)

The Commission provided background information, which led to the presentation of the present draft Decision. The FVO representative explained that most of the recommendations formulated following the inspection mission had been fulfilled. The Uganda authorities had provided the Commission with guarantees saying that the fishery products caught in Lake Victoria are subject to appropriate checking to detect the presence of pesticides. Consequently the Uganda authorities guarantee the safety of the fishery products concerned and intended to be imported into the EC. The Commission therefore proposed to amend the health certificate established in Decision 95/328/EC 1 to allow imports of fishery products from Uganda produced under a system of monitoring checks with satisfactorily results.

Vote: unanimous vote in favour.

10. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Commission Decision 93/495/EEC laying down special conditions governing imports of fishery products originating in Canada (doc Sanco/2091/2000)

Following restructuring of the Canadian government, it is necessary to modify the nomination of the competent authority in Commission Decision 93/495/EEC. Furthermore, the Commission proposed to harmonise the wording of this Decision with the wording of the more recent adopted Commission Decisions laying down special conditions governing imports of fishery and aquaculture products originating in certain third countries.

The vote was postponed.

11. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Commission Decision 94/323/EC laying down special conditions governing imports of fishery products originating in Singapore (doc Sanco/2084/2000)

Following restructuring of the Singapore government, it is necessary to modify the nomination of the competent authority in Commission Decision 94/323/EEC. Furthermore, the Commission proposed to harmonise the wording of this Decision with the wording of the more recent adopted Commission Decisions laying down special conditions governing imports of fishery and aquaculture products originating in certain third countries.

The vote was postponed.

12. Exchange of views on a draft Commission Decision laying down the methods of veterinary checks for products from Third Countries destined for introduction into free zones, free warehouses, customs warehouses, or operators supplying cross border means of sea transport (doc Sanco/5490/99-rev6)

Directive 97/78/EC 2 allows the introduction of non-EC conforming products onto the territory of the Community provided that these are retained within certain specified warehouses and are for either eventual export to third countries or for the supply of cross border means of sea transport. The presence of these products represents an increased risk to both the animal health and public health status of the Community. These products must therefore be strictly controlled whilst they are within the Community. The Directive provides for the basic principles of the controls and for detailed rules of application to be adopted by the Commission.

The draft Decision sets down these rules of application covering documentation to be used, records that must be kept, and the checks and controls that must be carried out.

Vote: 74 votes in favour; 10 votes against; 3 abstentions.

13. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision for the purchase by the Community of foot-and-mouth disease antigens and for the formulation, production, bottling and distribution of vaccines against foot-and-mouth disease (doc. Sanco/1841/2000-rev.2)

The point was transferred to the agenda of the Animal health-SVC to be held on 19.07.2000.

14. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision on a Community financial contribution to measures to control foot-and-mouth disease in certain parts of Turkey (doc. Sanco/1933/2000-rev.2)

The point was transferred to the agenda of the Animal health-SVC to be held on 19.07.2000.

15. Exchange of views and possible opinion of the Committee on a draft Commission Decision amending Decision 98/404/EC introducing protective measures with regard to equidae imported from Turkey (doc. Sanco/****/2000)

The point was transferred to the agenda of the Animal health-SVC to be held on 19.07.2000.

16. Exchange of views on a draft Commission Decision amending Decision 94/360/EC on the reduced frequency of physical checks of consignments of certain products to be imported from Third Countries, pursuant to Council Directive 90/675/EC (doc. Sanco/2072/2000)

The Commission distributed and presented the above proposal for study and observation. Following the discovery, in April 1999, of traces of growth promoting hormones in meat imported from the USA, a enhanced system of controls on all imports of fresh bovine meat and offal had been put in place. After these events, the US authorities had put in place their Non Hormone Treated Cattle Programme. The additional controls have not resulted in a single positive sample being identified.

Therefore, the Commission proposed to remove the additional safeguard measures enacted in 1999 and to reduce the frequency of checks on fresh meat imported from the United States, from checks on all consignments to checks on 20% only of consignments. This level represents the normal level of physical checks for all fresh meat imported from third countries.

The Commission announced that the draft Decision would be put to the vote at the next SVC.

17. Miscellaneous

1. The Commission replied to a legal problem, tabled by Germany at the last SVC, linked to residues and import of live animals, in particular to the necessary legal consistency between lists of third countries allowed to export to the Community and the list of third countries fulfilling the residue requirements. The Commission would do its outmost that the lists to be published would be present at the SVC together.

2. In relation to the problem raised by France concerning implementation of Decision 1999/724/EC laying down rules for gelatine production, the Commission confirmed that it did not envisage postponement of implementation of the Decision.

3. The Commission distributed and presented the following proposal for study and observation: "Draft Commission Decision laying down performance criteria for the analytical methods to be used for detecting certain substances and residues thereof in live animal and animal products according to Council Directive 96/23/EC 3 repealing Commission Decision 90/515/EC, 93/256/EC and 93/257/EC" (Doc. Sanco/1805/2000). The Member States were requested to forward their comments. It is the Commission's intention to put the proposal to the vote at the SVC in September 2000.

4. The Commission presented the new organisation chart for the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection.

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: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fs/rc/svc/index_en.html

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1 95/328/EC: Commission Decision of 25 July 1995 establishing health certification for fishery products from third countries which are not yet covered by a specific decision

2 Council Directive 97/78/EC of 18 December 1997 laying down the principles governing the organisation of veterinary checks on products entering the Community from third countries

3 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

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