Mark Davis, head of animal feed delivery at the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA), told FeedNavigator: “We understand other member states are considering how similar approaches may work not just in the feed sector but also in relation to food controls.”
The revised Feed Law Code of Practice, introduced in England in May 2014, involves reduced inspection frequency for compliant members of approved animal feed assurance schemes and other businesses with a history of good compliance.
“As well as reducing the burden of regulation on these compliant businesses, this approach is allowing local authorities to redirect resources to higher-risk businesses, including working to improve standards in those businesses that do not have such a good history of compliance,” said Davis.
The Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) circulated England’s Feed Law Code of Practice to other European countries ahead of its adoption last year. “The FSA is aware that the FVO supports the principle of earned recognition as set out in the Code and did not raise any concerns with the new arrangements during a follow up audit earlier this year,” added Davis.
Indeed, a roundtable at the annual general meeting of FEFAC in Cologne in June this year, which included representatives from the FVO, officials from the German and Belgian feed authorities as well as feed business operators, said EU countries should think about introducing a similar system of earned recognition and closer co-operation in respect of official feed controls in the current climate of decreasing public sector resources.
As 2014-2015 was the first year in which the new approach, incorporating earned recognition, was employed in England, Davis said the FSA has not yet formally assessed the impact on business compliance levels:
“But we do know that local authorities made excellent progress last year in undertaking the interventions that had been planned using the risk based approach, with nearly 100% (99.6%) of planned inspections being carried out.”
In the last year, the FSA also set about enhancing its existing feed training programs, in a bid to improve technical knowledge at the local authority level given the feedback received during the consultation period on the amendments to the Code, that inspectors did not have an ‘overall understanding’ of the whole subject area of animal feed.
“This allows officers to more easily access specific training related to legal requirements they are authorized to enforce. A specific course was also included to explain the new requirements of the Code of Practice.
All of the FSA funded feed training courses for local authority officers are currently being reviewed and refreshed for 2015-16. This includes the addition of a training course on feed labelling and also the development of two on-line courses, one on feed hygiene at primary production, which went live on 1 July 2015, and one on import controls expected to go live in autumn 2015,” said Davis.
A revised Feed Law Code of Practice for Wales was issued in October 2014, and also included the earned recognition model. The approach, said Davis, is also being considered for implementation by the Scottish and Northern Irish enforcement authorities.
Inventory of ‘successful’ EU feed control models
Sara Galletti, chair of the FEFAC Feed Safety Management Committee, said the feed control debate in Cologne really emphasized the evolution that has taken place in the relationship between regulators and the feed industry in the past few years:
“There is mutual recognition of need now and authorities recognize operators’ know how in terms of process and feed traceability. FEFAC is continuing to work with national trade associations to develop their capacity and to strengthen their relationship with regulators.”
She said FEFAC has recently published an inventory of various EU-wide initiatives that have proved successful in terms of cooperation between authorities and operators on feed controls. It can be read here.