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C 95/22 EN Official Journal of the European Union 23.4.

2003

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of
the European Parliament and of the Council laying down specific rules for the organisation of
official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption’

(COM(2002) 377 final — 2002/0141 (COD))

(2003/C 95/06)

On 24 July 2002 the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under
Article 152 (4) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the above-mentioned proposal.

The Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, which was responsible for
preparing the Committee’s work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 4 February 2003. The rapporteur
was Mr Donnelly.

At its 397th plenary session on 26 and 27 February 2003 (meeting of 26 February), the European
Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 108 votes for, 2 against and
4 abstentions.

1. Gist of the Commission proposal 1.5. The Commission also wants to stop contaminated milk
from leaving the farm gate and prevent it going into dairies.
The measures applying to poultry have been left untouched.

1.1. The European Commission wants to tighten up the


official inspection rules for a variety of products of animal
origin from fresh meat to milk. In July, it adopted a draft 2. General comments
Regulation on controls, which forms part of the Commission’s
strategy on food hygiene as set out in its January 2000 White
Paper. 2.1. The EESC believes that the specific rules for the
organisation of official controls on products of animal origin
for human consumption needed to be revised.
1.2. This proposal is part of the ‘hygiene package’, which
constitutes a recast of existing Community legislation on food 2.2. The Committee fully endorses the principle that these
hygiene and veterinary legislation that is currently contained controls should apply from stable to table.
in 17 directives. The Committee highly appreciates the effort
of the Commission towards greater simplification and consoli-
dation and the choice of using regulations rather than direc- 2.3. The EESC feels that the Community framework should
tives, which allows more consistent and quick implementation improve national control systems, so as to ensure a consistent
in the Member States. approach in all Member States.

2.4. As for live bivalve molluscs, the EESC welcomes


1.3. For meat, the proposal incorporates the latest opinions the proposal requiring the establishing of a monitoring
from the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating programme of harvesting areas. The results of monitoring of
to Public Health and brings meat-inspection legislation into harvesting areas for live bivalve molluscs could be communi-
line with forthcoming EU rules in the fields of hygiene, cated using modern technologies, with a view to a more rapid
zoonoses or food-borne diseases, official feed and food communication and more transparency.
controls. The EESC supports the fact that the annexes can be
amended using the procedure referred to in Article 6; this will
enable rapid introduction of changes based on the views of the 2.5. Regarding milk and milk products, the EESC supports
Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public the Commission’s proposal to include among official controls
Health. the control of holdings, of raw milk upon collection, and of
processed dairy products.

1.4. The new inspection rules will apply to meat establish- 2.6. The Committee endorses the approach of the White
ments and meat-cutting plants. For live bivalve molluscs such Paper on Food Safety regarding a Community framework of
as oysters, clams and mussels, monitoring programmes in national control systems. The Committee appreciates the value
harvesting areas must be set up to measure the level of of the small processing sector for the production of quality
contamination. Consuming toxic shellfish can cause serious products at local level, as well as its importance in relation to
illness, with symptoms ranging from vomiting to falling into a the more general themes of food safety, animal health and
coma. animal welfare.
23.4.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 95/23

2.7. The Committee feels that measures should be taken to 3.7. The EESC believes that the Commission should estab-
ensure that the introduction of a regulation on official controls, lish an effective and simple information chain.
in the constant pursuit of unambiguous hygiene and quality
objectives, does not impact on the viability of the small 3.7.1. The information chain should include information
abattoirs and the fresh meat cutting sector. on non-conformance of raw milk with the agreed standards.
Such information should be provided to the private veterin-
arian attending the holding of provenance and to the com-
petent authority responsible for supervising the holding.
3. Specific comments
3.7.2. In the Committee’s view, the Commission should
ensure that Member States have in place a documented
3.1. The Committee stresses the importance that the official information-management system to communicate with stake-
control system should be risk and science based. holders. This is particularly important when actions required
as a result of official controls impact on stakeholders. This is
3.2. The EESC feels that audits and controls should be also most relevant during emergency situations.
achieved by encompassing food safety, animal health and 3.8. The EESC wishes to highlight the relevance of the more
welfare. overseeing role of the official veterinarian, who, besides
auditing and inspection tasks, has to ensure that information
3.3. As for the scope of the proposal, the EESC believes resulting from inspections flows back to the farmers.
that these official controls should be extended to all sectors in
the food chain from stable to table. 3.9. Turning to imports from third countries, the Com-
mittee asks the Commission to ensure the same level of
supervision as for EU products, with a view to strengthening
3.4. The EESC would highlight the importance that right traceability and controls from stable to table.
through the production processing and placing on the market,
the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)
principles should be applied. 4. Conclusions

4.1. The Committee fully supports the Commission’s pro-


3.5. Bearing in mind the requirements, in the official posal.
controls, for audit, good hygienic practices (GHP) and HACCP
programmes in all sectors, the EESC would underline the
4.2. Notably, the EESC endorses the fact that auditing and
importance of introducing generic guidelines.
controls must be applied to all stages of production from
stable to table.
3.6. The Committee considers that the scientific opinion of
the European Food Safety Authority in relation to pathogens 4.3. The Committee highlights the importance of trans-
in meat will enable a scientific approach to decisions relating parency and effective and rapid flow of information, which are
to heat treatment. vital to ensure consumers’ confidence.

Brussels, 26 February 2003.

The President
of the European Economic and Social Committee
Roger BRIESCH