Official Control of Foods

Official controls - what are they?

Official control rules

Areas covered by the rules

Official controls and other official activities

Legislation in detail

 

Official controls - what are they?

Official controls are carried out by competent authorities to:

  • ensure the safety and integrity of all food, food products and ingredients at each stage of the agri-food chain
  • verify that all involved in the agri-food chain are complying with legislation requirements and hygiene standards

Official controls include audits, inspections, sampling and analysis of food establishments, foods and goods.
 
Member States are required to organise official controls in a way that ensures efficient and effective coordination of all competent authorities involved in performing official controls and other official activities.
 
The Irish Competent Authorities that are responsible for official controls on food include:

  • The Food Safety Authority of Ireland is the competent authority with overall responsibility for the enforcement of food legislation in Ireland
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
  • The Health Service Executive
  • Local Authorities
  • Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority
  • The Marine Institute

Official control rules

The rules on how official controls are carried out in Member States are set out in Regulation (EU) 2017/625 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products.

Regulation (EU) 2017/625:

  • came into effect on 14th December 2019
  • provides the legal basis for how food legislation is enforced to protect the consumer
  • replaces Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls for food and feed
  • amends and repeals several associated pieces of legislation
  • extends the official controls framework to the whole agri-food chain including food and feed law, animal health and welfare, plant health and animal-by products rules
  • introduces a more harmonised and coherent approach to official controls and relevant enforcement actions along the entire agri-food chain
  • strengthens official control checks to help fight fraudulent and deceptive practices
  • includes requirements for dealing with newly identified risks in relation to food and feed
  • includes the legal basis for the European Commission to introduce additional rules that supplement Reg (EU) 2017/625 in certain areas.

 Areas covered by the rules

The Regulation provides the requirements for official controls and other official activities on:

  • food and food safety, integrity and wholesomeness
  • feed and feed safety
  • animal health
  • animal welfare requirements
  • animal by products
  • plant health
  • plant protection products
  • genetically modified organisms
  • organic production and labelling of organic products and
  • protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed.

The legislation requires that official controls and other official activities are risk based, transparent, effective and efficient. As well as verifying compliance with legislative requirements when conducting official controls and other official activities competent authorities verify food safety and authenticity.

The Regulation provides the rules for:

  • how official controls and other official activities are performed
  • obligations for Food Business Operators
  • delegation of certain official control tasks by the competent authority
  • sampling, analysis and testing for samples taken during official controls and other official activities
  •  official controls on animals and goods entering the Union
  • financing of official controls and other official activities
  • official certification
  • reference labs and reference centres including national reference laboratories
  • administrative assistance and cooperation
  • planning and reporting including the Multi-annual national control plan (MANCP) and annual reports
  • Commission controls in Members States and third countries
  • training of staff of the competent authorities and other authorities
  • Information Management System for Official Controls (IMSOC)
  • enforcement action in the event of non compliance

Official controls and other official activities

Regulation (EU) 2017/625 defines official controls and other official activities as follows:

Official controls

These are activities performed by the competent authorities, or by the delegated bodies or the natural persons to which certain official control tasks have been delegated in accordance with this Regulation, in order to verify:

a) compliance by the operators with this Regulation and with the rules referred to in Article 1(2); and

b) that animals or goods meet the requirements laid down in the rules referred to in Article 1(2), including for the issuance of an official certificate or official attestation.

Other official activities

These are activities, other than official controls, which are performed by the competent authorities, or by the delegated bodies or the natural persons to which certain other official activities have been delegated in accordance with this Regulation, and with the rules referred to in Article 1(2), including activities aimed at verifying the presence of animal diseases or pests of plants, preventing or containing the spread of such animal diseases or pests of plants, eradicating those animal diseases or pests of plants, granting authorisations or approvals, and issuing official certificates or official attestations.

Difference between official controls and other official activities

Here is an example of the difference between an official control and other official activities:
 
An inspection activity that takes place to verify that an establishment complies with the legislation is an official control. The administrative aspects of issuing an official certificate based on the inspection outcome is an other official activity.

The significance of this difference between an official control and an other official activity is that not all parts of Regulation (EU) 2017/625 apply to other official activities.

Legislation in detail

Regulation (EU) 2017/625 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products came into force in general from 14 December 2019. It replaces Regulation (EC) 882/2004 on official controls on food and feed which has been repealed.

EU Legislation

Regulation (EU) 2017/625 (OJ L 95, 7.4.2017, p. 1–142) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products.

Amended by:
Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/478 of 14 January 2019 (OJ L 82, 25.3.2019, p. 4–5)

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/2127 of 10 October 2019 (OJ L 321, 12.12.2019, p. 111–113)

Corrected by:
Corrigendum to Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products (OJ L137, 24.5.2017, p. 40)

Consolidated Version of Regulation (EU) 2017/625 (as at 14 Dec 2019)

 

National Legislation

For food businesses registered and under the official control of the Health Services Executive

European Union (Official Controls in Relation to Food Legislation) Regulations 2020, S.I. No. 79 of 2020

For food businesses under the official control of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, Local Authorities and certain establishments under the official control of the Health Service Executive.

European Union (Food and Feed Hygiene) Regulations 2020, S.I. No 22 of 2020  

Delegated and implementing acts adopted under Regulation (EU) 2017/625

Regulation (EU) 2017/625 contains 85 empowerments where the Commission can introduce additional legislation to supplement the rules in the regulation. Some of the empowerments are mandatory and the Commission must introduce new legislation to replace existing legislation that is revoked or repealed by Regulation (EU) 2017/625, while some are optional provisions that the Commission may or may not act on. These empowerments are known as “tertiary legislation” and are called either Implementing Acts or Delegated Acts depending on the type of empowerment.

Get an overview of the delegated and implementing acts adopted under Regulation (EU) 2017/625

 

 

 


 


Last reviewed: 31/8/2020

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