Food

Legislation on official controls

Legislation on official controls

EU official control rules are a key element of the governance of the agri-food chain in Europe, which are recognised world-wide as an example of best practice. Those rules provide national enforcers and the Commission with the necessary powers to ensure effective enforcement of regulatory requirements, and with mechanisms that allow the full cooperation of all parties involved in ensuring the correct application of the law across national borders.

The Official Controls Regulation also provides the Commission with audit and control powers in the Member States and Third Countries, and with the power to take action at EU level.

Current Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls

Regulation (EC) N° 882/2004 aims to create an integrated and uniform approach to official controls along the agri-food chain. Its purpose is to allow competent authorities in the Member States to verify compliance with food and feed law, and to:

  • prevent or eliminate risks which may arise, either directly or via the environment, for human beings and animals, or reduce these risks to an acceptable level;

  • guarantee fair practices as regards trade in food and feed;

  • ensure protection of consumers' interests, including labelling of food and feed and any other form of information intended for consumers.

Key elements of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls

  • official controls should be carried out regularly, on a risk basis and with appropriate frequency;

  • official controls should be carried out at all stages of the food chain on domestic produce, as well as on imports and exports;

  • competent authorities may delegate specific tasks to official control bodies, under certain conditions;

  • specific rules are laid down for official controls carried out on imported products;

  • regular training for competent authority staff is an obligation for the Member States;

  • training programme for competent authorities' staff is funded by the European Union (Better Training for Safer Food);

  • framework for the designation of EU Reference Laboratories;

  • rules on the design and implementation of multi-annual national control plans prepared by Member States to ensure the effective implementation of the Regulation;

  • possibility of coordinated control plans on an ad-hoc basis.

Regulation (EC) N° 882/2004 was recently reviewed and will after a transition period be replaced by the:

Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625

The Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625 addresses official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products (Official Controls Regulation - OCR).

The European Parliament and the Council adopted the new Official Controls Regulation No 2017/625 on 15 March 2017. The Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 7 April 2017 and entered into force on the 27 April 2017

The new rules replace Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls and other legislation which currently governs the control and enforcement of rules along the agri-food chain. It will thus:

Repeal: Regulations (EC) No 854/2004 and (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Directives 89/608/EEC, 89/662/EEC, 90/425/EEC, 91/496/EEC, 96/23/EC, 96/93/EC, 97/78/EC and Council Decision 92/438/EEC

Amend with respect of control rules: Regulations (EC) No 999/2001, (EC) No 396/2005, (EC) No 1069/2009, (EC) No 1107/2009, (EU) No 1151/2012, (EU) No 652/2014, (EU) 2016/429 and (EU) 2016/2031 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulations (EC) No 1/2005 and (EC) No 1099/2009 and Council Directives 98/58/EC, 1999/74/EC, 2007/43/EC, 2008/119/EC and 2008/120/EC.

The new rules will gradually become applicable with the main application date being 14 December 2019. A table listing the different application dates is available here.

Main Elements of Regulation (EU) 2017/625

The main elements and changes in this new regulation are outlined below.  A set of questions and answers are also provided here.

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Scope

Risk Based Approach

Official Controls on the Operator's Processes and Activities

Transparency of Official Controls – Greater Accountability of Competent Authorities

Delegation of Control Tasks of the Competent Authorities

Operators' Obligations

Official Laboratories

Reference Laboratories and Centres

Sampling, Analysis, Tests and Diagnosis

Border Controls

Official Certification

Administrative Assistance and Cooperation

Financing of Official Controls and Other Official Activities

Enforcement actions by the Competent Authorities

Enforcement Measures

Penalties

Sector specific control rules

Relation between Official Controls Regulation and the Animal Health Law & The Plant Health Law

Commission Empowerments: Future-Proof Legislation