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Report shows how Member States plan the fight against antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a slow and silent pandemic requiring urgent global action, as it poses a major threat to health and the economy around the world. National Action Plans (NAPs) are key in the fight against AMR.

The Commission conducted a review of the Member States’ NAPs, which focused on their One Health dimension. The review also covered the strategic approaches taken by Member States to tackle AMR, and examined the relevant policy objectives, as well as identifying gaps and good practices in the existing NAPs.

The review found that many Member States would benefit from an increasing focus on the environment. Also, robust management structures are essential to ensure oversight and transparency, with a clear prioritisation of actions, inclusion of targets and indicators. Several Member States are currently in the process of developing or updating their One Health NAPs which constitutes an opportunity to improve their design.

The report describes  a number of actions launched by the Commission services, as part of its wider strategy on AMR, aimed at strengthening the regulatory framework, expanding the available knowledge-base and assisting Member States.

To learn more about AMR, please click on 'Read more...'

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Commission publishes an update of its Health and Food audits and analysis programme for 2022

The Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety published an update to the detailed programme of its Health and food audits and analysis work programme 2022.This update takes account of necessary changes largely due to the reprioritisation of controls and resources in order to better contribute to the Commissioner’s mandate. To learn more about the updated programme, please click on the 'Read more...' below

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The Commission reports on official controls on food and feed, animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products performed in 2019 and 2020 in EU countries

 

This report covers the overall operation of EU countries’ official controls and the Commission’s control activities carried out in 2019 and 2020 to ensure a high level of health protection and trust in the food chain, from farm to fork. These controls and audits are important to verify that businesses are complying with the legal requirements and so that European consumers can be confident that the food they consume is safe. They are also key to enabling the smooth operation of safe trade in food, animals and plants, both within the EU and with non-EU countries.

National authorities are responsible for carrying out official controls based on risk. If businesses along the food chain do not comply with the relevant legislation, the authorities are required to enforce the requirements by taking steps to bring those operators back into compliance.

For the first time, the report contains standardised EU-wide statistical data and (info)graphs showing the total number of business entities operating in the food chain, the number of official controls performed by national authorities, the numbers of non-compliances detected and numbers of  administrative sanctions imposed and judicial actions taken.

According to the data submitted by the EU countries, in 2020, some 16.8 million business entities were active in the EU food chain and subject to official controls by national authorities.  The national authorities carried out some 4.1 million official controls in relation to these entities, leading to the identification of around 655,000 non-compliance issues, the imposition of some 388,000 administrative sanctions and initiation of some 12,700 judicial actions.

The report also describes how the Commission supported the EU countries to continuously improve their official control systems through the provision of training and through meetings with Member States’ experts.

The accompanying staff working document provides further information about the controls carried out by the national authorities and by the Commission. The results of these controls show that EU countries have the necessary control systems in place and, overall, they provide levels of compliance compatible with food and feed safety and a healthy internal EU market. Commission controls identified weaknesses in certain national control systems and highlighted where there was room for improvement. The Commission’s systematic follow-up of its audit recommendations shows that, in general, national authorities take appropriate corrective measures to address shortcomings identified.

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Report identifies challenges that the Member States face to measure animal welfare at farm level

 

Assessing how national production systems comply with EU animal welfare laws is very important, but not an easy task. EU laws require that national  authorities have control plans, which include clear objectives. They also need to carry out official controls based on written procedures and ensure that controls are effective.

For the area of animal welfare at farm level, Commission controls  indicate that most national authorities have difficulties to implement effective systems to monitor compliance trends over time. This is because they have not set specific objectives nor baselines (points of comparison) and they have not defined how to measure progress to identify whether the animal welfare conditions are improving, remaining stable or even worsening.

This EU Commission overview report finds that, overall, there is no single set of indicators universally accepted to measure the welfare of farm animals. However, some Member States have started to use indicators allowing their official controls to provide a better assessment of the real state of welfare of animals at farm level.  The report concludes that it would be feasible to establish specific and appropriate animal welfare indicators for different farming systems or production sectors. 

To learn more about the details of the report on measuring animal welfare at farm level, please click here

 

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Commission publishes its Health and Food Audits and Analysis Programme for 2022

One of the missions of the European Commission is to verify that the standards set out in European Union (EU) legislation on food and feed safety, food quality, animal health and welfare, plant health, EU quality standards and certain areas of human health, are correctly implemented in Member States and in third countries, for their exports to the EU. To achieve this mission, the European Commissions has established its Health and Food Audits and Analysis Programme for 2022. It plans to conduct 281 controls in total, which include 172 audits and similar controls, as well as 109 analyses of EU Member State and third country control systems. In addition, Commission experts will perform other demand-driven controls such as the analyses of border control posts, joint assessments on medical devices, fact-finding missions to testing facilities and controls on third country listings for exports to the EU. All controls help give consumers the confidence that their interests are protected. The selection of these controls results from a careful prioritisation process, based on legal obligations for Commission controls, risks posed in the sectors concerned and the Commission’s political priorities, and in particular the Farm to Fork Strategy. The outcome of the audits and similar controls is made available to the public on the website of the European Commission (https://ec.europa.eu/food/horizontal-topics/official-controls-and-enforcement/health-and-food-audits-and-analysis_en). The work programme also presents other activities planned for 2022. These include, for example, the development of the policy on the sustainable use of pesticides, contributing to the reduction in use and risk of chemical pesticides in line with the Green Deal and the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy, the management of two networks of Member State authorities on their multi-annual national control plans and national audit systems, and the management of the Better Training for Safer Food programme. To learn more about the details of the Health and Food Audits and Analysis Programme for 2022, please click on the 'Read more...' below.

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Report identifies challenges and bests practices in the controls over food contact materials

Food comes into contact with many materials such as food processing equipment, work surfaces, food packaging as well as kitchen- and tableware. The EU has strict rules aimed at ensuring that such “Food contact materials” have no negative effect on the food we eat and thus our health. To ensure that these strict rules are followed and that food contact materials are indeed safe, competent authorities in EU countries conduct controls. This EU Commission´s audit overview report describes the different approaches taken by Member States in the organisation and implementation of official controls on food contact materials. It also outlines the challenges faced, as well as the approaches taken and the tools used by Member States to further improve their official control systems. Read more about controls on food contact material, challenges and good practices (hyperlink to the report below)

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Report shows improvement of the official controls over fruits and vegetable production

Fruits and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet, and their daily consumption could help prevent major diseases. The EU has strict rules aimed at ensuring the microbiological safety of these foods. In order to ensure that these rules are followed by food business operators, both at the level of primary production and at the level of processed fruit and vegetables, the competent authorities in all EU countries carry out official controls. The EU Commissions´ audit reports on such controls found that, while certain shortcomings exist/persisted in EU countries, progress has been made over time. EU countries adapted and improved their official control systems with a greater focus on emerging microbiological risks in fruit and vegetables, and have responded positively to the recommendations made by the EU Commission. Read more about controls on fruits and vegetable production (hyperlink to the report below)

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Commission publishes an update of its Health and Food audits and analysis programme for 2021

The Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety published an update to the detailed programme of its Health and food audits and analysis work programme 2021. This update takes account of necessary changes largely due to restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and as well, the reprioritisation of controls and resources to contribute to Commission priorities and/or address an emerging need (for instance Farm to Fork or anti-microbial resistance strategies). To learn more about the updated programme, please click on the 'Read more...' below.

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New report highlights importance of ongoing surveillance and wild boar population management to combat African Swine Fever

Since 2014 several EU Member States have had cases of African Swine Fever in wild boars. The control and eradication of this disease is difficult and demanding. During the winter of 2018/2019 the European Commission carried out a series of fact-finding missions in four Member States not yet affected by the disease. The objective was to evaluate the measures that the veterinary authorities were taking to prevent the possible introduction of the disease and to prepare for it if that happened. The overview report presents the main findings of these missions and good practices applied in different countries. It highlights the need for national wild boar management strategies that are acceptable for farmers, hunters and environmentalists alike. It also underlines the need for unaffected Member States to remain vigilant for possible signs of the disease and to be prepared to respond swiftly if it is introduced. To find out more about wild boar management strategies, click on the 'Read more...' link below:

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The Commission reports on the overall operation of official controls in Member States during 2017 and 2018

The report gives an overview of the Member States’ and Commission controls regarding compliance with the rules in the areas of food and feed law, animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products, performed in 2017 and 2018. Overall, it concludes that Member States have the requisite control systems in place. The report highlights that initiatives aimed at improving the effectiveness of official controls, such as better use of IT tools, data analysis and desk based controls, are essential to counterbalance the continuous pressure on staffing levels. The report further describes how the Commission supported Member States (and non-EU countries) via the provision of training to and technical meetings with national experts. The accompanying staff working document provides further information about Commission controls in Member States, and the expert working groups and training initiatives through which the Commission supports the Member States. To learn more about the report and the staff working document, please click on the 'Read more...' below:

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