"Official control" - Food

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Food safety

Perception of risks and food safety: what do European consumers think? Level of food safety in Europe From the White Paper on food safety to date Controls in Europe and in Italy “Official control” self-control Organization of the official food control system in Italy Labeling Food additives EU approved food additives Plant protection products (or pesticides or pesticides) Nutritional labeling Nutritional safety Food safety in the home
  • Perception of risks and food safety: what do European consumers think?
  • Food safety level in Europe
  • From the White Paper on food safety to today
  • Checks in Europe and Italy
  • Self control
  • "Official control"
  • Organization of the official food control system in Italy
  • Labeling
  • Food additives
  • EU approved food additives
  • Plant protection products (or pesticides or pesticides)
  • Nutritional labeling
  • Nutritional security
  • Food safety in the home

"Official control"

Official controls can be performed by various EU and non-EU institutions, with the aim of verifying compliance with current legislation on feed, food and animal health and welfare.

The public administration, through EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and the competent bodies of the Member States (Ministry of Health), are responsible for risk assessment activities through official control by the relevant institutions and the competent authority (AC), as required by Regulation (EC) 882/2004

The regional and territorial structures (AULSS through the Food, Nutrition and Veterinary Services) of public health are responsible for the management and control of all the production, processing, transformation and storage facilities for food of animal origin and non-animal existing on the regional territory. From 1 January 2006, with the entry into force of the so-called hygiene package, it becomes mandatory to "recognize" and / or "register" those structures that also handle food. The Ministry of Health, in agreement with the Regions and the autonomous Provinces, is developing a centralized registration system that allows consultation and access methods.

For the purpose of registration, the food business operator must notify the competent authority of each establishment in which he carries out his activity. This procedure is called DIA (activity start report). Before the hygiene package, food businesses belonging to sectors of activity not falling within the scope of specific directives were subject to authorization pursuant to law 283/1962. The authorization is now replaced by registration pursuant to Regulation 852/2004.

The issue of the hygiene package is also considerably changing the way in which official controls operate, which must be based on risk analysis: according to art. 3 of Regulation (EC) 882/2004, must be performed periodically on the basis of a risk assessment and with appropriate frequency. There is no notice, except for exceptions such as audits, where prior notification from the feed and food business operator is required. The official control is aimed at Italian products and those of other origins intended to be marketed in the national territory, as well as those directed to European Union countries or exported to third countries. The controls cover all stages of production, transformation, storage, transport, trade, administration, import, and include one or more of the following operations: inspection, sampling, laboratory analysis of the samples taken, control of the hygiene of the staff, examination of written material and documents of various kinds, examination of the verification systems installed by the company and their results.

The check is aimed at verifying:

  • the condition, hygiene conditions and related uses of plants, equipment, tools, premises and structures;
  • raw materials, ingredients, adjuvants and any other product used in production and preparation for consumption;
  • semi-finished products;
  • the finished products;
  • materials and objects intended to come into contact with food;
  • disinfection, cleaning and maintenance procedures;
  • the technological processes of production and transformation of food products;
  • the labeling and presentation of the product;
  • the means and methods of conservation.

An innovative aspect relevant to Italy in terms of safety, introduced by EU legislation, is that the entire control system, public and private, must operate under a quality system, according to rules internationally recognized and validated by accreditation bodies.

In our country, for the performance of official control, the National Health Service makes use of the collaboration of numerous bodies operating both centrally and territorially.

The competences in the field of food safety, at central level, are the responsibility of the Department of Veterinary Public Health, Nutrition and Safety of the Ministry of Health, while at the territorial level the peripheral offices of the Ministry of Health operate, that is the Health Offices Maritime, Air and Border (USMAF), Border Inspection Posts (PIF) and Veterinary Offices for Community Compliance (UVAC). The Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Health through the Antisofistication and Health Units (NAS) also operates with competence throughout the national territory and with structures also structured at the peripheral level, especially in the field of repression and prevention.

The planning and coordination activities of the controls are carried out in agreement with the Regions, which make use of the local ASL at the operational level.

The reference laboratories for food analysis are at the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institutes (IZS) of the various regions and the Regional Authorities for the Protection of the Environment (ARPA).

Risk assessments and scientific research studies are conducted or coordinated centrally by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), which also has technical-scientific tasks and revision analyzes.

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