EU updates list of imports of plant origin subject to reinforced border checks

Controls performed at European Union borders on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 continue to deliver results and, as a consequence, the EU is removing some products from the list of feed and food of non-animal origin that are subject to an increased level of official controls by national competent authorities at the border. As a result of the satisfactory results reported by Member States, curry from India will be de-listed from the Regulation’s Annex I. This commodity will therefore no longer be subject to the reinforced scheme (the checks performed by competent authorities will again be ‘routine’ ones).

Concerning new listings, the following commodities will be added to the list of feed and food which are subject to reinforced border checks: table grapes (food) from Peru at a control frequency of physical and identity checks of 10% for the possible occurrence of pesticide residues and dried apricots (food) from Turkey at a control frequency of 10% for the possible presence of high levels of sulphites or of undeclared sulphites. Moreover, the control frequency for Brassica oleracea originating from China (‘Chinese broccoli’) will be increased from 20% to 50% in light of the high degree of non-compliance with the relevant Union legislation detected in the course of the controls carried out by the Member States on this commodity.

The Regulation will be amended by extending the transitional period referred to in its Article 19 for an additional term of five years, so as to allow the smooth entry into force of any new requirement that might result from the ongoing review of the provisions applicable to designated points of entry and to border controls in general.

At the meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 6 June 2014, Member States endorsed the Commission’s proposal to amend the Annex to the Regulation by reflecting the abovementioned changes.

The amendments are expected to enter into force as of 1 July 2014.

(Source: DG Sanco)

Written QA to EU Commission – China’s dubious food imports

Question for written answer
to the Commission 
Rule 117
Andreas Mölzer (NI) (20th March 2014)

Subject:  Dubious food imports from China

Since food from China is often considerably lower priced than domestic food, imports from the Middle Kingdom have been steadily increasing in the past few years. However, this is problematic because certain pesticides are allowed in Chinese agriculture that are forbidden in the Member States. According to a newspaper report, increasing quantities of fish, apples, strawberries and jam in particular are from China.

It seems that China is way ahead in terms of statistics for food that has attracted attention on arrival in the EU. In 2013 an EU food authority is said to have reported Chinese imports to the EU-wide Rapid Alert System no fewer than 435 times. Tests show the presence of genetically-modified ingredients, pesticides and even heavy metals.

1. How high is China’s share of food products imported into the EU?

2. What consequences can be drawn for inspections of food imports from countries that are reported so many times in the EU-wide Rapid Alert System?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission (13th May 2014)

1. China is the fourth commercial partner of the EU as regards the total trade in agricultural and fishery products and accounted for 4.85% of the imports into the EU of these products in 2012.

2. As part of the comprehensive body of legislation in place to ensure that food imported into the Union complies with EU safety requirements, the Commission established in 2010 a list of food and feed of non-animal origin which on the basis of known or emerging risk require an increased level of controls prior to their introduction into the EU. The list appears in Annex I to Regulation (EC) 669/2009 and is regularly reviewed on the basis of information sources which include data resulting from notifications received through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. At present the list features, amongst others, frozen strawberries, ‘Chinese Broccoli’, pomelos and tea originating from China.

When required, more stringent import conditions such as the compulsory presentation of results of sampling and analysis and of a health certificate verified by authorised representatives of the country of origin are adopted. This regime is at present applicable to a number of commodities including groundnuts originating from China due to the possible contamination with aflatoxins and rice products originating from China due to the possible presence of unauthorised genetically modified rice. Special conditions such as the suspension of imports of the food or feed in question can also be imposed if needed.

(Source: European Parliament)