Report on meeting of Commission Working Group on food hygiene legislation: 24 September 2007
Monday 15 October 2007
This report provides updates on on-going discussions regarding the food hygiene legislation.
Substantive issues discussed were:
- two linked proposals concerning the date of freezing food of animal origin and the traceability of food of animal origin
- consideration of further items requiring co-decision
- the Commission’s presentation of a summary of replies to its questionnaire on proposed amendments to the Hygiene Regulations concerning comitology
The date of the next meeting is expected to be 9 November 2007.
sanco/1489/2007 (rev 2) concerning date of freezing food of animal origin
A minority of Member States continue to question the rationale for the first proposal, notably whether it will do what is intended (that is, tackle fraud). The Commission responded that the proposal was not solely to do with tackling fraud and it responded to points raised by Member States who felt they had insufficient enforcement tools to deal with issues they encountered, including the provision and transmission of information within the food chain. The Commission would not undertake an impact assessment until the proposal had 'stabilised' and its elements were fixed, although it would reflect on the points raised.
sanco/1490/2007 (rev 2) concerning traceability of food of animal origin
Turning to the traceability proposal, the Commission began by asking whether coldstores froze food stuffs or merely stored product frozen elsewhere. Some Member States said that they had establishments doing both.
It was suggested that the scope of the proposal should not be limited to frozen product of animal origin but should extend to all chilled product of animal origin. The Commission indicated it needed to reflect further on this.
The Commission confirmed that the requirement for batch number marking was a current obligation under Article 18 of 178/2002 and the proposal was not intended to extend that requirement.
The Commission reminded the meeting that this proposal was not necessarily about labelling, rather it was about the provision of information by food business operators to the receiving food business operator and to the Competent Authority. The Commission would reflect further before refining the proposal with a view to obtaining an Impact Assessment.
Copies of both the proposals are available at the links below.
Consideration of further items requiring co-decision
In response to concerns about egg products, the Commission stressed that it will revisit the issue of so-called 'composite products', which it identifies as an issue needing resolution across a number of fronts. No discussion on the ‘definition of retail’ issue.
Commission review of the hygiene legislation – items to be dealt with by comitology
The Commission presented a summary of replies (a copy of which is attached to this report) to its questionnaire on proposed amendments to the Hygiene Regulations concerning comitology. It invited Member States to comment on inaccuracies or omissions by 5 November. Commission accepted that the list was not closed but stated that the priority must be for co-decision proposals.
Clarification was sought by the Commission from Member States regarding those points where proposals could be addressed by means of guidance and did they mean Commission guidance on the legislation or the development of national/Community guides to good practice?
The Commission stated that following the initial discussion on the summary of the questionnaire on Co-decision proposals, and the distribution of the comitology summary, there was now a need to establish priorities for further consideration of the proposals. The Commission invited Member States to submit their views on topics that should be given priority.
The Commission indicated that priority should be given to Articles in the Transitional Arrangements Regulation 2076/2005, which would expire at the end of 2009 or sooner.