Report of Commission Working Group on Hygiene Legislation (CWGHL): 28 June 2010
Tuesday 27 July 2010
Details of the meeting
- Belgium’s case for negligible risk of trichinella status. There was overall support for this with a possible vote in September.
- Flexibilities in the hygiene legislation. Presentation from the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) and the Commission. Two main concerns were that flexibilities were not always being taken up by Member States (MS), and that MS were not always notifying flexibilities as required. Two flexibility guidance documents currently being translated and should be circulated in time for discussion at July Chief Veterinary Officers meeting on 20 July. Possible Working Group on the issue later in the year. The reports from the targeted FVO missions of last year should be published in September.
- Farmed game proposals. No substantial comments. To be put to a vote in September.
- Imports of composite products proposals. Commission will redraft to include comments from MS. The proposal will also be put to the veterinary import checks working group on 11 July, where Border Inspection Posts are likely to be represented.
- Lists of third countries and model health certificates. There were no comments on the Commission’s latest drafts. Vote expected in September.
- Parasites in fishery products. The Commission has temporarily put these proposals aside but will prepare a fresh proposal for September.
- Poultry meat in Agri-Sanco legislation – discussion on definitions of processing, particularly in relation to 'flash fried' and 'marinated' meat. Commission will reflect further and may develop guidelines; also asked MS for examples of where these methods might lead to a meat being considered a 'meat preparation' or a 'meat product'.
- French presentation on their proposal for mandatory submission of microbiological test results. MS interested in proposal but there were reservations around cost, practicalities, and the reliability of data. France will proceed with the project and will share information. Commission asked the UK to share details of its voluntary submission method.
- Industry guide on wholesale markets. Translations are in progress.
- No SCoFCAH in July. It will be a Working Group discussion on the salmonella in poultry meat criteria. Next SCoFCAH likely in September.
Flexibility provisions in the hygiene legislation
The Commission gave a presentation on flexibility provisions in the hygiene regulations. The FVO gave a presentation on the findings of targeted missions to six MS last year looking at how flexibility provisions had been applied at national level (the UK was one of the six that volunteered to take part in this exercise). The FVO reports will be available in September.
The key messages from the presentations were that:
- flexibilities were not always taken up (some MS had many, other MS had few)
- where flexibilities were used, the FVO found no evidence of risks to public health
- not all flexibilities were notified to the Commission correctly, meaning they are not legal (no specific examples given)
The Commission is preparing two documents on flexibilities within the hygiene legislation, which will set out in more detail where flexibilities are available and how MS can make use of them.
The Commission asked why MS did not make more use of the flexibilities available in the hygiene legislation. Some discussion, with most MS uncertain about them; others commented about the length of time the process can take (e.g. in relation to establishing a pilot project) that the FVO would not accept a particular measure.
The FVO noted that the targeted missions indicated that where flexibilities were not used by MS, there were often higher rates of non-compliance. It was confirmed that as long as the flexibility was properly notified, it would be considered law by the FVO on their visit. The main problem that they had encountered was non-notification, which meant that the flexibilities were not legal and could not be taken into account.
The Commission agreed to reflect on all MS comments. A Working Group would be considered for later in the year, where MS could present their current use of flexibilities.
Draft proposals on game and game meat
There were no comments on the existing text of the draft proposals. The Commission indicated that they were not open to further additions to the proposals and any new issues will need to be considered separately. The game proposals will go to a vote in September.
Draft proposal on composite products
The Commission indicated that comments had been received in writing and at SCoFCAH, and that these would be considered. The text would now go to interdepartmental consultation with a view to putting it to the vote in September.
Some MS requested that the entire proposal be resubmitted to the veterinary import checks working group on 11 July, at which some BIPs would be represented. The Commission agreed to this and asked for further comments in writing.
Legislative basis for lists of third countries and model health certificates
The Commission indicated that comments from MS had been taken into account. There were no further comments on the draft proposal, which is now expected to go to a vote in September.
Parasites in fishery products
The Commission said that the proposal had been withdrawn temporarily in light of MS comments at the previous meeting. Instead, further work would be undertaken with MS and EFSA to ensure that the scientific basis for taking further action was sound. The Commission had therefore written to MS on 24 June asking for further data to be considered as part of this process. The Commission intends to have a revised proposal on the table for discussion at the September Working Group, which is why the deadline for comments has been set at 1 September 2010. The Commission urged MS to meet this deadline.
Definitions of poultry meat in agri-sanco legislation
A representative of ‘DG-Agriculture’ joined the meeting for this item. Some MS questioned the clarity of the marketing standards legislation definitions. The Commission indicated that these definitions had been used for the best part of 20 years, excepting some slight amendments. The Commission further noted that the proposal had gone through the Council with 26 MS voting in favour and that DG SANCO had been consulted. The Commission indicated that the definition of poultry meat dated from 1971 and marketing standards from 1990, and they were not aware of any discrepancies.
There then followed a long discussion about whether individual products under the legislation might be considered 'meat preparations' or 'meat products', especially those that had been flash-fried or marinated.
The Commission began the discussion. 'Marinating' is included under the definition of 'processing' in 852/2004. However, the Commission accepted that a variety of processes are nominally called 'marinating', not all of which might result in 'meat products' as defined under 853/2004. The example used by the Commission was whether meat marinated in oil and herbs might be considered a meat preparation, while meat marinated in lemon juice might be considered a meat product.
Many MS argued that marinated meat was a meat preparation. Others, that it depended whether the processing was deemed to have substantially altered the initial product and there could not be an effective blanket rule. It was also suggested that the term 'marinating' might mean substantially different things in different languages.
The Commission felt there was a need for the Commission to intervene as this could not be left for MS to deal with on a case-by-case basis. Comments were requested in writing – in particular, the Commission requested examples of where MS felt marinated meat was considered to be a 'meat preparation' or a 'meat product'.
Discussion among MS centred on whether flash-fried meat was a meat product as it had been heat-treated. General view among MS arose that it depended whether state of the meat inside the product still retained the characteristics of fresh meat. The Commission again indicated that it would consider the issue further and possibly produce guidance.
French proposal for the mandatory submission of microbiological test results to competent authorities
France gave a presentation on their proposals for mandatory FBO submissions of test result data. While MS were generally positive about the principles behind this, there was little enthusiasm for a harmonised EU approach due to concerns about cost, logistics and/or the quality of the data likely to be received. The Commission requested that France keep MS informed – it may be added to the microbiological criteria working group agenda in the Autumn.
Community Guide on Wholesale Markets
The Commission noted that translations were in progress and asked MS to submit comments as appropriate.
Belgium - case for negligible risk of trichinella status
Belgium gave a presentation on their proposal for Trichinella free status. Their case had been updated in light of comments received in writing from other MS.
The Commission asked that any further comments on the proposal are sent direct to Belgium and copied to the Commission by 9 July. On the basis of comments received, the Commission will consider whether the Belgian proposal is ready to be put to a vote in September.
The Commission also indicated that they would take forward further work on the definition of 'negligible risk' within the framework of future meat inspections work. They would do this in conjunction with the European Food Safety Agency and also with CODEX (there was another instance of a MS having difficulty having their 'negligible risk' status accepted by third countries).