The Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625: new rules and fields of application

The Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625: new rules and fields of application

The new regulation on official controls will come into force on December 14, 2019: EU Reg. No. 2017/625 which aims to ensure the application of food and feed legislation and the rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products.

The purpose of this regulation is to establish a harmonized framework of the European Union for the organization of official controls in the entire agri-food supply chain. Among the main innovations introduced, there is an extension of the field of application of official controls to the entire food chain.

The regulation in fact rationalizes and simplifies all the previous legislation by incorporating provisions partially or totally excluded from the scope of application of Reg. n. 2004/882; among these we find the health of the plants, the animal by-products, the substances and residues in products of animal origin, the biological productions, the labeling and others.

The Regulation therefore applies to the official controls carried out to verify compliance with the enacted legislation from the Union or from the Member States, in the following sectors:

  • food and food safety, integrity and wholesomeness, at all stages of the food chain, including rules that protect consumers’ interests and information, manufacturing and the use of Food Contact materials;
  • the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for the purposes of food and feed production;
  • feed and feed safety at any stage of production, processing, distribution and use of feed, including rules that protect the health and interests of consumers;
  • animal health requirements;
  • prevention and minimization of health risks for humans and animals deriving from animal by-products and derived products;
  • animal welfare requirements,
  • protection measures against harmful organisms for plants;
  • the requirements for the placing on the market and use of plant protection products and sustainable use of pesticides, with the exception of pesticide application equipment,
  • organic production and labeling of organic products,
  • use and labeling of names of protected origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialties guaranteed.

How official control are carried out?

The official controls must be performed according to documented procedures and provide for the development of written documentation (paper or electronic support) which, unless otherwise requested for the purposes of judicial investigations, is provided as a copy to the operators subjected to official control which they request it. The Competent Authorities will be able to regularly carry out official controls on all operators, including all those who operate distance selling through an e-commerce site.

Frequency of checks

The frequency of official controls will be established on the basis of the identified risks associated with animals, goods and activities under the control of food companies. The checks will be carried out without any notice, except in the event that it is necessary and justified for the purpose of a regular check. Also with regard to the checks required by the same food business operator, the competent Authority may decide to carry out the check with or without notice. The Competent Authorities in this way will be able to guarantee greater transparency to consumers regarding the food products purchased, ensuring control over the entire food chain.

Right to a second opinion

In the case of sampling, analysis, testing or diagnosis in the context of official controls, the FBOs are entitled, at their expense, to a counter-inspection. As stated in the EU Reg. 625/17 this right “should allow the operator to request an examination document, by another expert, sampling, analysis, test or initial diagnosis, as well as a second analysis, test or diagnosis of the parts of the sampling material initially taken, unless this second analysis, test or diagnosis is technically impossible or irrelevant “. For this reason, if appropriate, pertinent and technically feasible, the competent authority shall ensure that when taking samples a sufficient quantity is taken to allow a second opinion and if it is not possible to take a sufficient quantity, it must inform the ‘operator.

The new Integrated Management System for official IMSOC controls

Another important novelty of Regulation n. 625/2017 is the creation of a new online network. Member States will be able to communicate more quickly with each other and transmit important information regarding the checks carried out, thanks to the creation of an IMSOC (Integrated management system for official controls) or an Integrated Management System for official controls. This system will make it possible to create an instant connection between all existing computer systems (including the RASFF) and to guarantee a high level of protection of public health.

For further details, I report the following link to the legislation:

REGULATION EU 2017 / 625 of 15 March 2017 relating to official controls