Report on meeting of Commission Working Group on food hygiene legislation: 2 July 2009
Friday 10 July 2009
Details of the meeting and relevant documents.
Proposed amendments to the hygiene regulations
Several proposals were finally agreed:
- changes to transportation for less than 24 hours before slaughter to be discussed at the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) meeting on 15 July
- changes to allow non-filter feed gastropods to be harvested in non-classified areas
- fish frozen in brine
- gelatine and collagen
- references to all lists rather than only OIE lists A and B
Imports of composite products/end of transitional arrangement for Article 6 of Reg 853/2004
Due to the complexity of this issue, the Commission has decided that this will need a more in-depth discussion with all parties involved. This means that the introduction of provisions of composite products contained in Article 6 of Reg 853/2004 will now be postponed. Document SANCO/1733/2008 will be modified accordingly. Commission intend to vote on this document at the SCoFCAH meeting.
Date of next meeting: Commission Working Group – September 2009
Agenda items 1 and 2: Proposed amendments to the hygiene regulations (docs SANCO 4449/2009 rev 3 and SANCO 4456/2009 rev 3)
Food Chain Information
Commission reported that (FCI) has now been transferred to a separate document (5999), and this will be presented at the 15 July SCoFCAH meeting (see further information below).
Temperature requirements for poultry meat and lagomorphs
The Commission explained that they had consulted industry on referring only to 'foie gras' or to 'specific products' with regard to the derogation for temperature requirements. The industry has indicated that they require it only for ‘foie gras’.
General view among Member States was that the extension to ‘other products’ could raise food safety concerns and be difficult to enforce, and supported Commission's view point.
It was suggested by one Member State that the text could refer to specific products, but limiting to those with 'technical constraints'.
The Commission preferred the option to refer only to foie gras, but was open to the proposal that would amend the text regarding products that require other temperature requirements because of 'technical constraints'.
Live bivalve molluscs – harvesting and packaging
The Commission explained that marine gastropods which are not filter feeders could be harvested in areas not classified by the Competent Authorities (CAs).
One Member State expressed concerns over the exclusion of marine gastropods from the classification areas, as they are not only harvested in the open sea, but also in coastal areas subject to environmental/chemical pollutants. The Commission explained that even if harvested in non-classified areas, they will be subject to the other hygienic requirements.
However, it was also regarded by one Member State as a proportionate measure, because marine gastropods are ubiquitous and it is impossible to monitor all coastal waters.
With regard to the proposal to have packages of live bivalve molluscs in closed packages, the Commission clarified that packs will have to leave points of despatch closed and once at the point of sale the packs could be opened.
The Commission explained a similar proposal for packs of pectinidae. Everyone agreed with these proposed amendments.
Fishery products and processed bivalve molluscs
The Commission moved on to the proposals relating to additives in fishery products and the changed wording in relation to fish initially frozen in brine.
Various opinions were expressed by the Member States, as some considered that the words 'to ensure preservation' were superfluous as those additives are added in accordance with the additives regulations. However, Commission felt that the wording used was to correspond with the definition of fresh fishery products as this would minimise legal difficulties.
The issue of comparisons with the addition of citrate to minced meat was expressed by one Member State as to whether the meat could be considered fresh. The Commission replied that minced meat is regarded as fresh meat and if the additives have no preservation function, then it is a meat preparation and therefore it is fresh meat. However, if the additives are incorporated to preserve the meat, then it becomes a meat product, which is not fresh meat.
The Commission proposal regarding fish frozen in brine was accepted without any comment from Member States.
Gelatine & collagen
The Commission introduced the changes to gelatine and collagen. There were no comments and all Member States were content with the proposed changes.
OIE listed diseases
The Commission explained how the change from the previous wording was intended to deal with the concern that not all OIE listed diseases were of significance in public health terms. There was also a change to point 5. All Member States were also content with these changes.
The Commission proposed a change in Annex II, Chapter I of Reg 854/2004 to reflect the inclusion of marine gastropods that can be harvested in non classified areas. Commission will organise a meeting (end September/early October) to discuss marine biotoxins with Member States, the reference Community lab for marine biotoxins and EFSA. The Commission is still considering the possibility of inviting the industry.
Food Chain Information (FCI) - New document SANCO 5999/2009 rev 1
The Commission presented the changes to allow the arrival of FCI less than 24 hours in advance, or to travel with the animals.
Proposed comments were received from Member States and also SCoFCAH, stating that FCI has to be made available to the FBO in 'sufficient' time (before the text was in 'good' time).
There were no other comments, so this amendment will now go to the next SCoFCAH meeting on July 15 to be voted.
Imports of composite products
Although this was not part of the original agenda, the Commission were looking for an opinion from Member States for the best option to deal with the imports of composite products when the transitional arrangement for Article 6 of Regulation 853/2004 expires at the end of this year.
The Commission gave 3 possible options:
- Option 1
Do nothing and allow Article 6 to come into force. This means that all composite products imported should prove that the animal ingredients of the composite product come from an approved establishment in an approved country, where the product has been produced in accordance to community standards. The consequences will be significant for many third countries where dairy plants are not authorised, and all composite products containing dairy could not be exported. The cost of trade for third countries has been estimated at three billion euros.
- Option 2
To postpone the application of Article 6 for four years, until the end of 2013. This will provide time to third countries to adapt to the changes.
- Option 3
A midway measure, postponing the rules in Article 6 for certain categories of composite products that contain meat, or if more than 50% of the composite product is from products of animal origin. These composite products will go through border inspection posts (BIPs) and be accompanied by a certificate. This will have a lower impact on the trade of third countries that has been estimated at 600 million euros.
Regarding the time period the Commission explained that the intention is to start with composite products covered by the animal health provisions (Reg 275/2007), and extend the application of Article 6 to the other composite products through a transitional measure for 3 years.
Member States were asked to discuss the options over lunch. Option 3 (midway option) was the preferred option, supported by the majority of Member States (but with reservations due to the lack of time to consider this).
The Commission understood that it was difficult for Member States to make a decision at such short notice, and had proposed a meeting for July 7 (next week) if Option 3 proved to be the preferred option. [The UK has since been informed that this meeting will not take place and they will propose Option 2 at the next SCoFCAH meeting on July 15].
Agenda item 4b: Draft Community Guide to good practice to wholesale markets
This guide has been developed over the past 4 years by the World Union of Wholesale Markets. The work began prior to the existence of the hygiene package. The guide will go to SCoFCAH to seek agreement, and be granted official recognition as a Community Guide.
The guide was assessed by a restricted working group involving the Commission and a small number of Member States.
The Commission requested comments from Member States by July 17.
Agenda item 3: exchange views on the wild game sector
The Czech Republic presented the conclusions following the conference held in Prague under their Presidency.
The two main issues were:
- intra community trade of skin not allowed but Member States would like this to be possible
- the creation of a list of trained hunters in all Member States.
The presentations from the conference will be available via the web page that contained the programme, and may be translated into English.
The Commission discussed various wild game issues as below:
- Issues with the application and implementation of Reg 853/2004.
- What are the national measures for small quantities of wild game?
- Do Member States have collection centres? Are they approved or registered?
- Hunting trophies.
The Commission said that they would re-circulate the questions to Member States and asked for responses. The Commission will put down ideas in the Reflections Paper once they get the information from Member States, which will be required by the beginning of September.
Agenda item 4a: Reflection paper
This item was not discussed at the meeting.
UK proposal on farmed game
At the last working group the UK was requested by the Commission to submit a proposal on the certification of slaughter and bleeding of farmed deer, for inclusion in the reflection paper. The proposal was not discussed at today’s meeting, it will now be discussed at the September meeting.