The FSA are currently consulting on plans to replace Regulation (EC) 882 of 2004 on official controls for food law. The consultation sets out amendments that the European Commission consider will improve the effectiveness and consistency of official controls accross the EU. The FSA are currently looking for views. The full consultation can be found on their website.
There are a number of proposed changes. Here's a small selection:
Charges for official controls will be levied on food businesses. This will exclude non-offical activities but may require authorities to charge for inspections, registration, approval and enforcement activity accross the board; albeit to the exclusion of micro businesses. The intention is that fees are calculated so as to enable authorities to fully recover service costs.
It will be up to individual member states as to what level the fees are established and collected. However, it is intended rates will be variable in recognition of good performance.
"Micro" businesses would include businesses employing fewer than 10 person that do not exceed a turnover of EUR 2 million. The EC estimate that up to half of all operators could fall into the "micro" category.
National enforcement measures will also be addressed through the legislation. Following the example set by environmental regulation a new provision will set out to ensure that financial penalties offset the economic advantage sought in commission of a violation. There will also be requirements placed on food authorities to take action to investigate suspicions of non-compliance.
Authorities will have to regularly submit information on official controls, non-compliances and enforcement action.
They will be allowed to publish greater detail of intervention outcomes (not just rating schemes). This may include reports. However, rating schemes must be based on objective criteria.
Data will need to be exchanged at European level through the establishment of a database to manage offical controls. This may involve changes to IT systems at local level.