Safety chiefs hope the increased level of checks will detect the possible presence of a number of substances that may pose a risk to humans and animals, such as aflatoxins in nuts and pesticides in fruits and vegetables.
“All EU Member States will step up their border controls on a number of pre-listed products -ranging from peanuts to fruit and vegetables- originating from outside the EU in an effort to limit possible harm to human and animal health,” said a statement from the European Commission.
The measures, laid out in Regulation (EC) No. 669/2009, provide for the first time a set of common rules for official controls on certain foods of non-animal origin. The directive also covers animal feed.
The regulation will cover documentary, identity and physical checks. The EC declared that “checks on documents accompanying the consignments will be carried out systematically on these products at EU borders, while physical checks will be performed at a lower frequency”.
Brussels recognised that member states will need more cash to carry out increased inspections and authorised them to “collect fees necessary to cover costs occasioned by those controls”.
The directive lays out seven minimum requirements that all EC points of entry will need to have – including sufficient staffing levels, storage facilities and unloading equipment. It admitted these could pose difficulties for some countries and allowed for a transition period during which these could be implemented incrementally.
Annex 1 of the new rule lists the food products to come under increased scrutiny and the frequency of “physical and identity checks” - ranging from between 10 and 50 per cent, depending on the foodstuff and country of origin.
The Commission said it intends to monitor the implementation of this Regulation closely by Member States. The list of food goods will be reviewed on quarterly, based on reports from national food agencies and “the most recent available science”, it added.
Read a full copy of Regulation (EC) No. 669/2009 via the following link