Final Report of an Audit Conducted In Four European Union Member States February 3rd Through February 21st, 2014
Evaluating The Food Safety Systems Governing The Production of  Beef And Beef Products For Export To Canada

5. Competent Authority and Official Controls

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Canadian import eligibility requirements necessitate that the foreign meat inspection system be organized and administered by the national government of the foreign country and provide standards equivalent to those of the Canadian meat inspection system.

In case of the EU, all EU MSs must comply with a set of rules and regulations developed by the European Commission (EC). In fact, EC is the institution having the right of legislative initiative for all European countries. In the context of food safety, DG-SANTÉ is responsible for preparing draft legislation (EU legislative requirements such as regulations, directives and decisions). It is also responsible for preparing draft legislation in relation to animal feed, and animal (including animal welfare) and plant health.

The FVO is part of the European Commission DG-SANTÉ which monitors, through thorough inspection, that the EU legislation is properly enforced by national, regional and local governments (competent authorities) and to ensure that traders, manufacturers and food producers stick to those rules. In fact, the FVO assesses how EU regulations are complied with within the EU and in non-EU countries that export to the EU. These activities are described in Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 (articles 45 and 46). The FVO provides information on results of those inspections and makes recommendations, where appropriate, on remedying shortcomings and monitors their implementation. FVO inspection reports and the comments of the countries inspected are published on the European Commission website.

Detailed information on the structure and organisation of each competent authority over food of animal origin, most specifically beef meat products, can be found in the European Commission's Country Profiles.

Usually, the competent authority is to ensure that at least one official veterinarian is present at the slaughterhouse, throughout the day, to perform both ante-mortem and post-mortem inspection activities. However, according to the Chapter 2 of section III of Annex I on fresh meat of the EC regulations 854/2004, the competent authority may adapt its approach for certain slaughterhouses identified on the basis of a risk analysis and in accordance with criteria laid down in accordance with Article 18, point 3, of this same regulations.

The CFIA requires full time official supervision of their federally registered slaughter facilities and does not allow off site supervision. Accordingly, the CFIA requires the presence of an official veterinarian in foreign slaughter establishments during the production of Canada eligible product. Only those establishments that can meet these requirements will be approved for export to Canada.

Auditors focussed on the supervisory visits that are needed for the implementation of the requirements on Article 8(3)(a) of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.

At least in one MS, deficiencies related to supervisory oversight were noted. The serious onsite and documents review findings in one establishment visited indicated that the competent authority needs to strengthen their official controls and supervisory activities.

Auditors reviewed methods and procedures by which competent authorities ensure compliance and report any non-compliance to the food business operator in relation to Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.

Follow-up procedures for noncompliance detected by CA in certain MSs need to be clarified and strengthened. Specific related issues are described in the MSs' Annexes. There are no set procedures for the development and implementation of corrective action plans by the FBOs. Similarly, there are no set procedures for assessment and follow-up of those corrective action plans by CAs.

The EU's minimal expectations as it relates to professional qualifications and training of official veterinarians and auxiliaries implementing officials controls are described in Chapter IV of section III of Annex I on fresh meat of the EC regulations 854/2004.

At least in one MS, it was difficult for the auditors to assess the compliance to this Regulation due to non-availability of auditable records.

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