Feed controls measure up but FVO picks holes in China's handling of RASFF alerts

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Feed controls measure up but FVO picks holes in China's handling of RASFF alerts

Related tags: European union

China is said to ticks all boxes for inclusion in the list of third countries from which the imports of feed additives and premixes to the EU would be permitted.

“However, there is some room for improvement in the coordination and flow of information between the different competent authorities regards their management of RASFF ​[Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed] notifications,” ​said a report of the findings​ of an audit by the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) on China’s system for official feed controls. 

That agency carried out its assessment in June last year in the context of the future production of a list of third countries from which imports of feed are permitted, as per Article 23 of Regulation (EC) No 183/2005.

The FVO team concluded the system for official controls in China ensures that feed additives and premixes exported to the EU comply with requirements at least equivalent to those laid down by the relevant EU feed legislation.

“The fact that most establishments exporting feed additives and premixtures to the EU adhere to FAMI-QS [the quality and safety system for speciality feed ingredients and their mixtures], an industry-based safety assurance scheme, provides additional guarantees that they meet the relevant standards set out in EU law,” ​said the report.

The FVO team was accompanied throughout the audit by representatives of the General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ) and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.

AQSIQ inspectors are responsible for feed exported from China to other countries, while the Ministry is responsible for products manufactured and used in the national market. 

Choline chloride contamination

The FVO auditors said a key part of their audit was a review of actions taken in response to RASFF notifications from nine EU countries from January to April last year concerning the presence of Bt63 genetically modified (GM) rice in choline chloride imported from China.

The presence of Bt63 rice - an unauthorized GM crop in the EU - in choline chloride is due to the use of rice husks as a carrier in its manufacturing. From February to April 2014 the EU Commission sent 22 RASFF notifications to the Chinese competent authorities concerning the contamination. 

However, the AQSIQ representatives told the FVO auditors they were not aware of the presence of Bt63 in choline chloride until 5 June 2014, upon reception of a letter from the Director General for Health and Consumers (DG Sante) on the matter. 

And, in reaction to the FVO audit report, the Chinese authorities expressed interest in visiting the headquarters of the DG Sante in Brussels in order “to make further progress in their understanding of and reaction to RASFF notifications, and also with a view to reinforcing mutual cooperation on feed hygiene matters.”​ 

But FVO team found the proactive approach taken by FAMI-QS on the presence of Bt63 rice in choline chloride has been the main driver behind the preventive measures adopted by the manufacturers concerned to avoid contamination reoccurring. 

“The reinforced controls of the competent authorities following RASFF notifications on the presence of Bt63 rice in choline chloride have largely come on the back of the above-mentioned FAMI-QS initiatives.

That said, the competent authorities' oversight provides additional guarantees about the reliability of the preventive measures that have been undertaken by the FAMI-QS manufacturers concerned,” ​concluded the report.

But the auditors said this ‘oversight’ has not included the analysis of official samples - the EU agency recommended such a course of action as a way of strengthening those guarantees.

Chinese feed production data

In 2013 the total feed production in China was 193 million tons, out of which 26 million were complete feed and 6 million premixes, according to Ministry of Agriculture statistics.

AQSIQ data shows there are 1,619 manufacturers of feed additives and 3,277 premix producers active in the Chinese market. Out of these businesses, 331 are registered for export activities and 126 actually export feed additives to the EU. 

The vast majority of feed additives exported to the EU are produced according to FAMI-QS. The FVO team said at the time of the audit, around 60% of manufacturers and 40% of dealers were certified under this scheme. 

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