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Official controls and enforcement

EU legislation on official controls (Regulation No 882/2004) provides a general framework for official controls performed by the Member States to verify compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare. It includes among others rules on financing of official controls, administrative assistance and cooperation, enforcement and rules on controls on imported products.

EU Member States are responsible for enforcement of the EU food chain legislation. Competent authorities organise official controls systems on their territory to verify that operators' activities and goods placed on the EU market (either EU produced or imported from non-EU countries) comply with relevant standards and requirements. All business operators must ensure compliance with EU food chain requirements in their daily activities. They are subject to official controls irrespective of their size, depending on the risk posed by different activities to the safety of the food chain.

The role of the EU is to assure that the control systems at national level are effective. This is the task of Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), through its Health and Food Audits and Analysis Directorate (previously called "Food and Veterinary Office" – FVO). It carries out inspections in EU Member States and in non-EU countries exporting to the EU to evaluate compliance with EU standards.