EU Safer Food Package (EU and UK from 1st Jan 2021)

The smarter rules for safer food (SRSF) package is a set of EU regulations for the protection against animal disease and plant pests. The package modernises, simplifies and improves existing health and safety standards for the agri-food chain. It takes a risk-based approach to animal, plant and public health protection, introducing more efficient pest and disease control measures.

The package includes 3 principal EU regulations:

• Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625: how controls across the agri-food chain will be monitored and enforced – applies from 14 December 2019

• Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031: controls for protecting plants from disease and pests – applies from 14 December 2019

• Animal Health Regulation (EU) 2016/429: a framework for the principles of European animal health – applies from 21 April 2021

The new Official Controls and Plant Health Regulations now apply in the UK. From 1 January 2021, these regulations will be retained by the Withdrawal Act and will continue to apply subject to any amendments Parliament may agree. UK legislation is also enacted.

The new Animal Health Regulation is not applicable until 21 April 2021, after the end of the transition period, and so the UK is not obliged to implement it.

EU Official Controls Regulation 2017/625

The new EU Official Controls Regulation (OCR) was published on 15 March 2017 and will apply in EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Plant Health Regulation.

It sets out mechanisms for ensuring that responsible persons and authorities enforce the rules and must verify that businesses are complying with the legal requirements. It explains what action enforcement authorities must take when they spot such non-compliance. This covers:

• food and food safety, integrity and wholesomeness at any stage of production, processing and distribution of food

• feed and feed safety at any stage of production, processing and distribution of feed and the use of feed

• animal health requirements

• prevention and minimisation of risks to human and animal health emerging from animal by-products and derived products

• welfare requirements for animals

• protective measures against pests of plants

• requirements for the placing on the market and use of plant protection products and the sustainable use of pesticides, with the exception of pesticides application equipment

• organic production and labelling of organic products

• use and labelling of protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed

• deliberate release into the environment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for the purpose of food and feed production.

The requirements of the OCR legislation cover how inspections, audits and sampling take place. It simplifies the current rules and makes sure there is consistency across the entire agricultural industry and food chain by including plants and plant products and animal by-products.

The OCR simplifies and brings together several existing control rules. It repeals Regulation 882/2004 and Regulation 854/2004.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending official controls to plant health and animal by-products

• increasing the transparency of controls carried out by national enforcement authorities

• creating a common framework for carrying out border controls on animals and goods entering or crossing the EU

• strengthening controls to identify fraudulent practices at an early stage

• modernising the computerised systems for the management of data and information on official controls

EU Plant Health Regulation 2016/2031

The EU Plant Health Regulation (PHR) was published on 26 October 2016 and will apply to EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Official Controls Regulation.

The new EU PHR sets out controls and restrictions that will apply to imports and internal movement of certain plants, plant pests, and other materials like soil, to help reduce these risks.

The SRSF package revises and improves the current EU plant health legislation. The PHR repeals Directive 2000/29.

Some of the areas changing include:

• extending the scope and changing the format of plant passporting

• new requirements for authorisation to issue plant passports

• more goods imported to the EU will need a phytosanitary certificate

• new requirements for the registration of professional operators

• movements within the EU – restrictions between disease free and pest free areas

• a strengthened protected zone

• new requirements applying to high risk plants and regulated non quarantine pests (RNQPs)

• a more precautionary approach to new trade flows and a commitment to undertake thorough pest risk assessments

• new category of priority pests, including annual surveying requirements and outbreak contingency planning

EU Animal Health Regulation 2016/429

The EU Animal Health Regulation (AHR) was published on 31 March 2016.

The UK and other EU member states are currently in a 5-year implementation period for AHR. The new rules will apply in EU member states from 21 April 2021.

The AHR outlines the principles of European animal health, supporting:

• a quick reaction in cases of emerging animal diseases and controlling outbreaks as effectively and efficiently as possible

• a consistent approach in dealing with different animal health diseases

• reducing the effect of animal disease outbreaks on animal and public health, animal welfare, the economy and the wider rural community

• functioning of the EU internal market in animals and animal products.

The above is not a full list, please read the contents of the webpage – here.

Further useful information is here.

Note: a plant passport is NOT the same as a phytosanitary certificate.