FVO audit in China – Good news about mung beans and sprouting seed exported to EU

Not everything is coming from China is definitely bad. Following an audit in 2013 (DG(SANCO)/2013-6680), which revealed several profiles of non-compliance with the EU rules, the Chinese Competent Authorities put in place a really effective system to chekk exporting seeds for sprouting and direct human consumption. 

This report describes the outcome of an audit carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) in China from 15 September to 22 September 2014.

The first objective of the audit was to assess the official control systems in place for seeds for human consumption (in particular, mung beans and other seeds for sprouting and direct human consumption) for export to the EU in order to prevent microbiological contamination (Articles 11 and 14 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002) and to assess whether these systems offer adequate assurance that the produce concerned is within the limits laid down in EU legislation.

The second objective was to follow-up the previous audit DG (SANCO)/2013-6680. The audit focused on controls at primary production level. The objectives of the audit were met. Significant progress was made by the Chinese Competent Authorities (CAs) since the last audit in 2013 and all six recommendations made in the report of that audit were fully addressed. The CAs have implemented the requirements of the EU legislation on hygiene for exports of mung beans for sprouting. A new control system has been devised explicitly for seeds for sprouting for export to the EU. This is based on registration and approval of farms by regional CAs and the introduction of specific official controls of farms and processors/exporters. The processing facilities visited by the audit team followed Good Hygiene Practices. The laboratory visited was accredited and suitable for the purpose of official microbiological analysis including Shiga Toxin Producing Escherichia coli(STEC).

At the time of the audit there were no export certificates being issued by the CAs of China for seeds for sprouting to be exported to the EU. However, the system of official food safety controls currently in place can assure that the mung beans for sprouting were produced under conditions which comply with the general hygiene provisions for primary production and associated operations set out in Part A of Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 as required by Article 3 of Regulation (EU) 211/2013. The system in place enables the CAs of China to issue the required
export certificates. This applies already for the 2014 harvest.

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