Role of business people and technicians in the normative regulation of food hygiene and safety in animal feed.
I. Origins and Principles
- Why, how and when
- The social basis and techniques of their development
II. Regulation (EC) No 178/2002
- Legislative basis and development tools and their application
III. The role of "feed business operators"
- Duties and responsibilities
IV. The hygiene package and other Regulations related to feed
- The legislative development of the "White Paper” and the R (EC) 178/2000
V. The hygiene package and other Regulations related to feed
- The R (EC) 183/2005, dedicated exclusively to feed
VI. Controls and self-control
- Levels of control
- Obligation control
- External control and internal auditing and certification.
VII. Contamination and contaminants
- Normative references
- Prevention and control of contamination
- Cross contamination
ORIGINS OF THE CURRENT SITUATION AND THE PRINCIPLES IN WHICH IT IS BASED
Why, how and when/ The social basis and the techniques of its development/Consequences
Since the beginning of tech livestock, technicians, farmers and other people related to this sector know that the feed which is given to animals must be “healthy, safe and suitable for their needs”. It is an obvious requirement the fact that it needs to be “suitable” for their needs because if it does not suit them, animals will not produce anything, will get ill and can even die. Feed needs to be “healthy”, but that does not only refer to it not being altered (because if it was, it would not be suitable), but also (and mainly) to it not having a negative effect on the animal’s health and, if possible, improving it. Feed needs to be “safe”, and that means that it cannot have a negative effect or a not desired one in others, that is, that it does not have a negative influence in the environment, the health of people, plants or other animals, neither in the long nor in the short term.
These principles were respected by feed producers since the beginning of this industrial activity, in accordance with the instructions of technicians, and this made their products reach high quality, safety and hygiene standards, taking into account the means they could use. Governments made sure things were like this and since 1942 there are rules in the sector which are very demanding regarding quality standards. The EEC, since its inception, was worried about the quality and safety of feed, so it regulated its manufacturing and marketing (see the Council Directives 70/534 / EEC, 74/63 / EEC, 77/101 / EEC, 79/373 / EEC and 82/471 / EEC). Spain, although it was not part of the EEC at the time, also included these regulations in its specific legislation (Decree 851/1975, of March 20th, by which substances and products involved in feeding animals are regulated).
When in 1986 Spain joined the European Union, it adopted all its regulations and all the directives governing animal feed were transposed into national law, basically by the Royal Decree 418/1987 on substances and products involved in feeding animals.
Therefore, there was a comprehensive legislation in Spain and in the EU. Nevertheless, it seems that in recent years the legal requirements on the quality and safety of animal feed are more numerous and in some cases it seems that feed has been held responsible for many problems and its manufacturers are required to take control actions which are beyond their means.
What has happened? Have business people and technicians failed? Not at all, knowledge is broader, the means we can use are better and animal feed is now much healthier, safer and better-adapted to their needs than before. But the situation has changed and we must adapt ourselves to it. We will do a brief review of some of these changes.
The first change, and most obvious one, is that the standard of living of the "first world" is higher. It has gone from "concern to eat" to "concern about what we eat". Phrases like "we are what we eat" lead to people asking "what is there behind food" and not just "what we eat", but also "what the animals we eat eat".
The second change is related to information. This has been a negative change because the fact of having more information and having it more quickly is not always an advantage. Being anxious to be “the first” one often results in not contrasted (or not true) pieces of news being spread. Plus, too much information, which often does not coincide with reality, sometimes makes selfish interpretations easier to be made, this is, making interpretations that “we want to believe in” or that “we want other people to believe in”.
The third change is very important to food safety. It is the development of science and technology. This step forward has allowed us to discover the causes of certain alterations or diseases, some of which are closely related to food. And the improvement of analytical methods to detect possible dangers at incredibly low levels. Thus risks that were previously unknown, undetectable or impossible to control, today must be and are controlled.
Finally, we also need to talk about the “alarms” or “food crisis” that have struck us in the last years, since they are essential factors for change. Who has not heard about the “mad cow disease”, dioxins, bird flu (which is usually not transmitted when eating meat, but by contact) or the “cucumber crisis”? The latter, for example, took place when the German Government thought that the cause of the epidemic caused by a toxic infection of Escherichia coli enterohemorrhagic bacteria was related to Spanish cucumber, but later it was proved that the real reason for it was a specific soybean crop and other seeds in Germany.
Yet, in all cases, the first thing that was affected and the last thing that was normalized was the product which was thought to be responsible for the problem.
All these crises revealed disparities in the performance of governments, lack of both coordination and clear operating procedures, and problems in the transmission of information, largely due to differences between countries when implementing EU regulations in their own legislation. But above all, these crises created uncertainty and distrust among consumers.
It was urgent, at least in the EU, that the necessary mechanisms to detect dangers and to deactivate them quickly were established in order to be able to act in an efficient and coordinate way, as well as to share information and to establish the appropriate measures to avoid this kind of crises to happen again and to restore confidence. As stated in the expression “Farm to fork”, all the links in the food chain are related to each other and have to coordinate themselves. If “food safety comes from feed”, feed businesses have a key role because of their importance themselves and as a link between primary production and consumers.
The EU was aware of the need for a reform, but also of the fact that this reform needed to be based on scientific, political and social consensus. Thus, in 2000 the EU launched the “White Paper on Food Safety”. Its purpose is to achieve and maintain the highest standards of food safety, and this way the highest level of health protection will be achieved.
In order to achieve this goal, this "White Paper" suggests that an independent European food organization should be created. This organization should have a fast and effective system of transmission and a new food safety legislation covering the whole of the food chain including feed and which gives the opportunity to control all products and follow them along all stages of the chain.
This is how the Regulation (EC) 178/2000 was born.
But we will talk about this the next day.
HYGIENE AND SAFETY RULES IN ANIMAL FEEDING IN THE EU
REGULATION (EC) No 178/2002
The legislative basis and the instruments of development and application
In the previous chapter I stated that, as a result of the food crises, the EU was aware of the fact that in order to achieve safety and gain back consumers’ trust, it was necessary to have updated regulations, efficient control and information systems and a homogeneous execution throughout the territory. Thus, the Commission itself was restructured, and also the vet services (which were in the DG AGRI (Agriculture)), the DG SANCO (Health and Consumers), so as to coordinate the development of food safety in a better way. Then, new regulations were created, which were of direct application.
The first legislative stake emanated from this new approach of the European Commission is the "REGULATION (EC) No 178/2002 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of January 28th 2002, which lays down the principles and general requirements for food law, creates the European Food Safety Authority and establishes the procedures in matters of food safety, which will be developed later along with other regulations, forming the so-called "Hygiene Package".
This Regulation, among other things, equated the requirements for animal feed with those established for food for human consumption and it is the base to ensure a high level of protection of health and the interests of consumers, which is based on three pillars.
- Some General Principles of Security, applicable to both feed and food.
- The creation of a single steering organization that coordinates, the European Food Safety Authority (www.efsa.europa.eu)
- The establishment of RASFF Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed), http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/rapidalert/index_en.htm
I would like to highlight the fact that the new legislation does not constitute a revocation or invalidation of what the manufacturers of animal feed had been doing, but reinforces their performance bringing new elements, structures and processes in line with the knowledge that has been gained and adapted to new situations caused by the complexity of the food chain in a global market
The Regulation 178/2002 applies to all stages of production, processing and distribution of food and feed for food producing animals. Its content includes 5 chapters.
I. SCOPE AND DEFINITIONS
II GENERAL FOOD LAW
Safety requirements for food and feed
Responsibilities of operators
Official controls to verify compliance EM
Traceability of animals, feed and food at all stages
III EUROPEAN FOOD SAFETY AUTHORITY
IV EARLY WARNING SYSTEM, CRISIS MANAGEMENT AND EMERGENCIES
V. PROCEDURES AND FINAL PROVISIONS
For now I'll just comment on some points of Chapters I and II which are of direct and immediate application in feed businesses.
The EU does not want the requirements for food and feed to be disproportionate or arbitrary and therefore states that "in order to achieve the overall objective of a high level of protection of health and life of humans, legislation food will be based on risk analysis." But the EU does not want to be limited to the field of health (healthy and safe food), and that is why it extends the objectives of the legislation to "protect the interests of consumers and provide a basis for informed choices about the food they consume." The new legislation will also aim "to prevent:
a) fraudulent or deceptive practices;
b) the adulteration of food, and
c) any other practice liable to mislead the consumer "
The standard does not want to leave anything outside its scope or subjected to questionable interpretations and therefore starts by defining and differentiating "food" to "feed".
For the purposes of this Regulation (and the legislation which it refers to) “'Food” (or “foodstuff”) means any substance or product intended to be ingested by humans or reasonably expected to be so, whether they have been wholly or partially processed or not ".
“Feed” is any substance or productive, including additives, intended for oral feeding of animals, whether it has been wholly or partially transformed or not.”
It also provides that the term “feed business” refers to "any public or private company, with or without profit, that performs any operation of production, manufacture, processing, storage, transport or distribution of feed; producers producing, processing or storing feed to feed their own animals" are also included.
"Feed business operators" are "natural or legal persons responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of food law in the feed business that is under their control."
And now it is time to comment on Chapter II, but we will do this the next day.
THE HYGIENE AND SAFETY OF ANIMAL FEEDING IN THE EU
The role of "feed business operators "
Duties and responsibilities
Requirements for feed safety
We are going to focus on those related to health and food safety, instead of the business ones, such as the lack of deceiving actions (we have to remember that, in the beginning, the EU was a “market” far from common). The EU clearly states:
1. “No animal intended for food purpose will be fed with unsafe food or sold”
2. A feed will be considered unsafe for the use which it is intended when:
-It has an adverse effect on human or animal health.
-It makes the food derived from animals for food production unsafe for human consumption.
And also states that "operators of food and feed business operators will make sure that their food or feed satisfy the requirements of the relevant food legislation for the purposes of its activities at all stages of production, processing and distribution taking place in companies under their control and will verify that they meet these requirements".
Responsibilities that feed business operators have regarding feed safety requirements
The R (EC) 178/2000 provides that, if feed business operators consider or have reason to believe that a feed which has been imported, produced, processed, manufactured or distributed does not satisfy safety requirements, they shall withdraw it from the market and inform the competent authorities immediately.
Operators shall also inform the competent authorities of the actions taken to prevent risks caused by the use of that feed and, in accordance with national law and legal practice, and will not stop anybody from cooperating with the competent authorities, or deter them to do so, if that can prevent, reduce or eliminate a risk caused by a feed.
In addition, feed business operators shall cooperate with the competent authorities regarding the measures taken to avoid risks caused by a feed that they supply or have supplied.
In other words, heads of feed business must walk "ahead" and "along with" the Government to ensure the safety of their products and not only should they react when something has happened, but also when something looks suspicious.
Responsibilities operators of the feed business have regarding feed traceability
"Traceability" is "the ability to find and track food, feed, an animal intended for food production or a substance intended to be incorporated in food or feed or likely to be through all stages of production, processing and distribution" and "at all stages of production, processing and distribution traceability of food, feed, animals for food production and any other substance intended to be incorporated into a food or feed, or likely to be must be ensured.”
Responsibilities that Member States have regarding feed
In this "division of responsibilities", “the Member States shall ensure compliance with food law, and monitor and verify that food business operators and feed business meet all relevant requirements of food law at all stages of the production, processing and distribution". In order to achieve this," the Member States shall maintain an official control system and undertake other appropriate actions, including giving information to the public about the safety and risks of food and feed, monitoring the safety of food and feed and other control actions covering all stages of production, processing and distribution. "
Main obligations of the animal feed business
To ensure that products manufactured or marketed by companies meet all the established requirements, the heads of these companies must implement control systems to ensure they comply with the following obligations (European Commission, D. G. SANCO):
-Market unsafe feed is forbidden.
-You must be responsible for the safety of the feed that is produced, transported, stored or sold.
-You must be able to quickly identify their suppliers and customers and relate them with the corresponding products.
-Inform the competent authorities immediately if they have reason to believe that their feed under their responsibility is not safe.
-Remove their feed immediately from the market if they have reason to believe it is not safe.
-Identify, review regularly and bring under control the critical points of their processes, that is, to have updated procedures based on the HACCP.
-Cooperate with the competent authorities in actions aimed at reducing risks (even if they are not the source of the risk).
Both the principles and the responsibilities (or the actions) to ensure the hygiene of food and feed are developed at different Regulations, some of which are either for food, feed or for both. Those that affect animal feed companies will be our goal. Yet, we will talk about it the next day.