Official controls, decree scheme to be revised

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Official public controls on food and feed supply chains. Legislative decrees 193/07 and 194/08 are to be brought into line with EU Regulation 2017/625. And the ministries actually engage in it, in an open secret, with a draft decree that nevertheless denotes little attention to existing European rules. Draft and comments to follow.

Official public inspection, reg. EU 2017/625

Reg. EU 2017/625https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/controlli-il-ruolo-dellamministrazione-sanitaria/ – has finally extended the scope of the ‘official controls’ regulation to the food and livestock supply chains in their entire course:

– from seed to fork, starting with seed genetics and the deliberate release of old and new GMOs into the environment,

chemical and biological safety. Protection of plants against pests, trafficking and the use of pesticides and other agrotoxics,

Animal health and welfare, extended to animals not destined for the food chain (e.g. pet animals, pet food)

– from feed to fork, extension of the concept of hazard to everything that may affect animal welfare (as well as plant health, and the riskiness of food and feed), (1),

organic products, PDOs and PGIs (outside of those pertaining to alcoholic beverages)

Quality certifications, including those on a voluntary basis. Which may be relevant, among other things, for rating operators.

The new regulation also differs from the former reg. EC 882/04, for the notion of danger (Article 3, para. 23, 24). Which precisely refers not only to effects on human and animal health, but also on ‘planthealth, animal welfare or the environment.’ There are also some measures to counter and crack down on fraud. (2)

The official public controls that fall under this large umbrella are therefore not limited to the areas of agriculture, livestock and food, but in fact invest the entire life cycle, plant and animal. Even if there is no direct impact on food production.

The national reform project

The three ministries with a variety of competencies in food policies have actually started the project of updating the LDs. 193/07 e 194/08. (3) Better late than never, 2.5 years after the adoption of EU Regulation 2017/625. The consultation procedure adopted is unfortunately the one characteristic of Italian state administrations, totally lacking in governance. Instead of conducting a public consultation-as is the established practice in Europe, the U.S. and numerous other contexts-the ministries have circulated early drafts only among a small circle of supply chain representatives. Thus missing the valuable opportunity to gather valuable input from other experts in the field, as well as from stakeholders (interested social partners, in public and private areas).

The document of primary public importance, which is attached here in draft dated 1.8.19, concerns precisely official public controls on food and feed supply chains. Revealing, however, an overall inadequacy with respect to the food and feed safety criteria introduced back in 2002 by the General Food Law, as well as the reference to the notion of danger introduced by Reg. EU 2017/625. (4) The assumptions of food at risk because it is unfit for human consumption, and those of feed at risk because it is capable of harming animal health (regardless of any effects on food derived from it) are particularly neglected. (5)

Competent authorities and sanctions, the knots at the comb

T he basic problem of the system of official public controls on the agrifood supply chain in Italy remains unresolved. Denying the due coordination of the Ministry of Health on all inspection activities everywhere conducted in Italy by any authority. The health administration-as this writer has been insisting for some 20 years now (6)-is the only authority with the necessary expertise and resources for the analysis of risks related precisely to health, animal and veterinary. Instead, once again, overlapping competencies with the departments of Agriculture and Defense are being proposed. (7)

The hypothesized penalty framework, in turn, is deficient in its prerequisites. Neglecting the punishment of activities dangerous to animal health that do not affect food, plant health, animal welfare and the environment. A substantive flaw that also reverberates in the rules on seizures and closure orders (temporary or permanent) of establishments and businesses. In contrast, once again, to the basic regulation. (8) Sanctions, moreover, should be ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive‘ (EU Reg. 2017/625, Art. 139). Instead, once again, they appear strong with the weak and weak with the strong. (9) With the result of making it almost ‘convenient’ for the ill-intentioned to defraud the IRS and jeopardize food safety by placing products from establishments without approval or registration on the market. Sic!

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) See reg. EC 178/02, Articles 14 and 15

(2) Food fraud remains a serious unresolved problem at the European level to date. See previous articles https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/sicurezza/frodi-alimentari-un-problema-irrisolto-rapporto-eu-food-fraud-network, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/frodi-alimentari-centro-di-conoscenza-ce , https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/fipronil-e-frodi-in-ue-il-bluff, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/certificazioni/iso-22380-prevenzione-frodi-alimentari , https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/certificazioni/fssc-22000-prevenzione-frodi-e-tampering

(3) See d.lgs. 193/07, Implementation of Directive 2004/41/EC on food safety controls and enforcement of Community regulations in the same field. And d.lgs. 194/08, Regulating the arrangements for refinancing official health controls. Fees provided in Annex A, section 6 – establishments under the purview of SIANs (Food Hygiene and Nutrition Services)

(4) See footnote 1

(5) Examples of feeds at risk because they are capable of causing harm to the health of animals alone are those pet foods falsely presented as single-protein (or otherwise intended for pets suffering from food intolerances, see https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/pet-food/pet-food-3-su-4-fuorilegge) rather than contaminated with toxic substances (e.g., melamine)

(6) See, most recently, the free ebook Food Safety, Mandatory Rules and Voluntary Standards, at https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/libri/sicurezza-alimentare-regole-cogenti-e-norme-volontarie-il-nuovo-libro-di-dario-dongo

(7) Regulation (EU) No. 2017/625 prescribes ‘efficient coordination‘, by a single national authority, to ensure the ‘consistency and effectiveness of official controls‘ in each member state (Art.4.2). But how will it be able to, the designated national point of contact, report to Brussels the outcome of the supervision performed on an annual basis (and update through such evidence the three-year programs), without coordinating the work of the other ministries?

(8) See reg. (EU) no. 625/2017, Art. 138. Actions in case of established non-compliance

(9) The lack of proportion and afflictiveness of sanctions against large operators has already been denounced in connection with Leg. 27/17(nutrition & health claims) and to d.lgs. 231/17(consumer information on food products). See the free ebook 1169 Penalties. Reg. EU 1169/11. Food news, inspections and penalties, at https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/libri/1169-pene-e-book-gratuito-su-delitti-e-sanzioni-nel-food

Attachment: review d.lgs. 193/07, draft 1.8.19