Reports of Working group meetings on 29 May and 4 June 2007
Friday 22 June 2007
Review of food hygiene legislation.
This report updates stakeholders on the Commission Working Group meetings of 29 May and 4 June 2007 regarding the continuing review of the food hygiene legislation and on further implementing legislation.
Suggestions by Member States (MSs) for co-decision amendments to the hygiene legislation
The 29 May meeting looked through items 1 to 35 out of a total of 52 items. The 4 June meeting looked at items 36 to 47. A document is attached that summarises MS views. The Commission undertook to report on this at some point.
The Commission indicated that the proposal to amend Article 5 of Regulation (EC) 852/2004 makes it difficult currently to consider any other amendments to that article.
Implementing and transitional legislation
At the 4 June meeting, proposed implementing legislation was also introduced and discussed; all the proposals will be returned to at the June SCOFCAH meeting. The Commission indicated it has very initial proposals in respect of the date of freezing and traceability in relation to coldstores.
Date of next meeting: 2 July.
Stakeholders should read comments below in conjunction with the list on the attached document summarising MS views – the numbers correspond to proposals listed. Please note that the outcome of each item’s discussions is reported, although the discussions themselves are generally not covered in detail.
1. Define and harmonise 'small quantities'
A general view that this might, as necessary, be dealt with in guidance. Commission concluded there was no strong wish to proceed.
2. National rules and the Community market
A general acceptance that clarification was needed. The Commission undertook to consult its legal advisers. Issues raised included whether there were any link to veterinary checks requirements.
3. Definition of 'wholesale'
The Commission concluded it needed legal advice on the options available.
4. Definition of 'contamination'
The Commission indicated it would reflect further and might put together a non-paper.
5. Adding the first five steps of HACCP
The Commission agreed that current Council deliberations made it unwise to consider further changes to Article 5.
6. Corrective actions need to be implemented
A suggestion on flexibility would be distributed by the Commission to MSs to consider.
7. Status of charities
A number of MSs asked for clarification as to what it was in Annex II of Regulation 852/2004 with which charities could not comply. This may be discussed further when clarification received.
8. Status of meat preparations and
9. Composite products in the dairy sector
General restatement of the problems in distinguishing which foods were (or were not) subject to Regulation 853/2004. Most Member States (MSs) agreed that meat preparations were not processed products and that foods containing them in combination with products of plant origin were subject to Regulation 853/2004. The Commission agreed this needed to be considered further and agreed to return to it.
In relation to the status of dairy products, a number of Member States referred to the line being taken in respect of ice cream by the European Federation (i.e. all ice cream is a composite unless made from raw milk.) The Commission indicated it remained open to suggestions and would consider working further with the guidance.
10. 'Small quantities'
No additional issues to 1. raised.
No clear conclusion reached. Some MSs felt on-farm slaughter was possible. Commission indicated no conclusions.
12. & 13. Changes to Article 1(3)(d)
Discussion about the extent to which these two items addressed the same issue. Conclusion seemed to be that producers slaughtering on farm could not be allowed (under the exemption) to process the meat. No summing up from the Commission. Indication that MSs might offer further drafting suggestions.
14. In addition, define small quantities
15. National rules
No additional points to those made under 2.
16. Coldstore approval
Some discussions, but there needed to be consideration of the responses from Member States to the Commission questionnaire. The Commission indicated it had not yet consolidated the responses and deferred further consideration until that had happened.
17. Temperature controls for transport of foodstuffs
Some discussions, but agreement that those transporting foodstuffs had to ensure that the cold chain was respected regardless.
18. Marginal and local
It was agreed this did not merit a legislative solution. The Commission indicated it would look again at the guidance.
19. Use of hot steam
This had been considered previously in the context of a specific Member State request. Since nothing further had been heard, the Commission assumed this was not a priority for consideration in the next year.
20. Use of clean water
Some discussions. The Commission concluded this should be considered further in the light of advice provided by France from the AFSSA (the French Government body that provides food safety advice).
21. Temperature controlled warehouses
This was considered to be the same issue as cold stores (16).
22. Conditional approval
Some discussions, but appears likely to be dropped.
23. Products on the Community market
It was agreed that if MSs had modified the regulation's provisions as provided for under Article 10(3), then the products did not need to be restricted to the national market as a transparent process of promulgating the modification had been followed.
24. Deletion of 'blood' from the definition of 'meat'
MSs agreed with the Commission analysis that this could not be done.
25. Inclusion of named species (yak, zebu) within the definition of 'bovines'
Majority of MSs thought they were clearly bovine. Some further reflection by some MSs.
26. Harmonise definition of 'poultry' with animal health texts
To be discussed further in the light fo further advice from some MSs.
27. Rodents not being lagomorphs
The Commission confirmed it had (as agreed) drafted a request to EFSA in relation to meat from rodents.
28. Information on the origin of game
Most MSs felt this was a labelling issue.
29. Trapped game
No clear views reached on the way forward.
30. Poultry carcasses
The Commission pointed out this was a problem only in the French version of the text and could be corrected in a corrigendum.
The Commission hinted a solution might lie in a different name for any variant product. The Commission pointed out this would not extend to pig or poultry MSM.
32. Meat preparations
The Commission indicated it would reflect further on Member State suggestions.
33. Meat preparations and products
Will be discussed at future meetings.
Some discussions, but no change on current position.
35. see 27
36. Amend definition of 'fresh fishery products'
Some discussions with no overall agreement. MSs asked by the Commission to reflect further.
37. Include species such as dromedary within the definition of milk
The Commission agreed to cover in guidance.
38. and 40. Changes to definitions of 'raw milk' and 'dairy products'
The Commission reminded MSs how difficult it had been to reach agreement on any changes to the definitions. Under the circumstances it was probably best to try to deal with issues in guidance.
39. Definitions of 'meat preparation' and 'meat product'
Some discussions and the Commission suggested that the problem might be a linguistic one. It had not seemed to cause real difficulties thus far and it was therefore not necessary to deal with this as a matter of urgency.
41. Add definition for 'coldstore'
Discussion about whether there was a need for a definition given that requirements for storing different products of animal origin were contained in Regulation (EC. 853/2004) The Commission seemed more concerned with the impact on exports from the EU (or imports to it) than in the impact on food businesses within the Community. MSs were asked to reflect further on these issues.
42. Add a definition for 'wholesale'
A number of MSs felt a suggestion in relation to retail might be a solution. The Commission indicated that there would be further discussion of the suggestion at the next meeting.
43. Position of invertebrates
The Commission indicated they would email those MSs which had (in response to the questionnaire) indicated an interest in this trade to find out what species and in what volume they were dealing. A request to EFSA could then be formulated if enquiries indicated this was needed.
44. Training of competent authorities
The Commission stated that further applications could be made to the training programme being run by the Commission.
45. Use of term 'audit'
Discussion regarding instances when the reference should be to 'inspection' rather than 'audit'. The Commission referred to the recently adopted decision on audit guidelines, adopted under Regulation (EC) 882/2004 and suggested that the need for any change had to be considered in light of that document.
46. Marking of unfit carcases
Discussions about the marking of unfit carcasses. This had previously been covered under national legislation. It was suggested that this issue was covered under animal by-products legislation and that discussions were taking place on the extension of requirements for staining certain categories of by-product. The Commission undertook to follow up this point.
47. Amendment to Article 5(5)(b) of Regulation 854/2004
Discussions resulted in the Commission suggesting that MSs should re-consider.
Initial discussion of doc 1489/2007 (attached) concerning date of freezing food of animal origin. The Commission explained that this was very much an initial proposal . There had been pressure from the Commissioner to extend the scope to all frozen foodstuffs rather than to just meat, but as drafted it applied to foods to which Regulation 853/2004 applied. A range of views expressed by MSs; previous concerns were again raised that this introduced administrative burdens without actually tackling the problem of fraud.
There was further discussion about the extent to which the labelling provisions applied and whether this ought eventually to be covered by an amended labelling directive. The Commission defended the current position and suggested that since date of minimum durability is mandatory for supply to the final consumer, it made sense for it to feature earlier in the supply chain.
Some discussion of the proposal’s possible links to the labelling directive 2000/13.
The Commission indicates it will reflect further on all points.
Initial consideration of this document (attached) concerning traceability of food of animal origin. The Commission introduced this proposal emphasising that it concerned the provision of information, not necessarily in a prescribed form or as documents, but also electronic.
Member States again expressed doubts about both the scope and the rationale for dealing with this under Article 18(5) of Regulation 178/2002. This will be discussed further at the Working Group on General Food Law on 22 June.
SANCO/99/2007 (rev 1)
Further discussion on (attached) implementing proposals previously presented at SCOFCAH. The Commission indicated that it is pursuing the issue on the use of liquid pepsin as part of Trichinella testing but will not hold the proposal up for the reference laboratory to give an opinion.
SANCO/2696/2006 (rev 8)
The Commission reported that this revision (attached) been tabled for consideration at the SCoFCAH meeting of 24 May.
The major change from Rev 6 is the deletion of the sentence which removes the requirement for the Official Veterinarian (OV) to examine carcases with minor abnormalities – the effect of this deletion would be to restrict the possibility of reducing OV attendance at slaughterhouses.
After some discussion, an informal vote requested by the Commission revealed the MSs opposed to constitute a blocking minority if the proposal went to vote in SCOFCAH, and asked the MSs concerned to consider their position.
Some further discussion on the linguistic concerns about this (attached) proposal concerning fishing vessels. Discussions followed and changes agreed, subject to clarifying whether the reference to 'day' should not be to '24 hours' to capture the possibility of fishing trips extending over midnight.
Suggestion that the proposal could be more explicitly risk-based that the link to size of vessel – the Member State concerned was asked to return with a suggested text, but the intention would be to remit this to June SCOFCAH.
With regard to gelatine, the Commission explained how this had the backing of industry, especially since the practice of mixing batches of gelatine to arrive at a particular technical specification meant that indicating minimum durability was simpler and more meaningful. MSs were asked to comment in the near future if they had difficulties with the proposal.