FSA Meeting Report, 13 September 2007
Council Working Party: Veterinary Experts – Public Health, 13 September 2007
This update reports on the meeting of a Working Party to discuss a compromise text (copy avialable on this site: Report) produced by the Portuguese Presidency regarding the proposal, issued by the Commission in March 2007, to exempt certain food businesses from the requirement in Article 5 of Regulation (EC) 852/2004 to operate HACCP-based food safety procedures.
The Presidency, following comments at the meeting from Member States, also produced a further compromise text (attached), on which Member States have been asked to comment by 20 September.
On this same issue, the Agency last reported on a meeting of 21 May 2007 to discuss a compromise text produced at that time by the German Presidency, which can be found elsewhere on the web site. The Agency has also held a stakeholder consultation on the proposal, the responses to which it will be publishing shortly.
The Presidency introduced its compromise text (the first two pages of which represent the proposal, the rest is explanatory material). This was intended to address the concerns previously expressed in discussions. It set out to clarify in the legislation (rather than in guidance) that for some types of food business, a process of hazard identification could show that hazards could be controlled by compliance with general food hygiene requirements such that procedures based on the HACCP principles would not be needed. The text included an Annex of example businesses to which the provision might apply.
Member states were invited to comment. Some questioned why the proposal was being brought forward now when the Commission review of the hygiene legislation had not been completed and whether there was evidence that problems were being encountered with the operation of the current requirements. The Commission reminded member states of the commitment given by Heads of Government to pursue the 10 fast-track proposals identified as better regulation initiatives.
Other Member States identified that the current regulation and accompanying guidance did provide for the type of flexibility that the proposal attempted to make explicit. Concerns therefore remained about the extent to which the proposal provided for anything new. For some member states this rendered it more likely to be acceptable, whereas for others it confirmed their view that it was unnecessary and should be resisted.
Comments on the text
Further Presidency compromise text
Following the initial table round, the Presidency produced a further version of its compromise (also attached) and invited initial views. All member states reserved their position until they had been able to study/refer back to capitals. The Presidency asked for written comments by 20 September.
The UK 's position remains that the UK Government supports the Commission in looking to reduce administrative burdens on business, but we consider the current food hygiene legislation gives the necessary flexibility for businesses to meet their obligations to produce food safely.