FVO Report – Italy deficiencies of official controls on milk and milk products

The following FVO report stress several and persistent profiles of non compliance of the Italian official controls system on milk and milk products: the recommendations made in 2010, 2012 and 2013 were not properly addressed.

The audit took place in Italy from 9 to 20 March 2015 in order to evaluate the official controls related to production and storage of milk and milk products, and the follow-up action taken by the competent authorities (CAs) in response to the relevant recommendations made in the previous audit reports.

Three Regions (Abruzzo, Puglia and Piemonte) were visited. Official controls are carried out frequently according to control plans, are risk based and well documented. However, the establishment reports contain very little relevant information and many deficiencies are overlooked. In addition, there is very little effective follow-up. Communication within local CA units remains poor. In the eight establishments visited, among the deficiencies found by the Food and Veterinary Office audit team, only a few had been identified and documented by the CA.

Audits (Article 4.6 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004) are carried out by central and Regional levels. The reports of these audits contain findings on non-compliances and systemic problems. Of the seven establishments visited (milk collection centre not included) in three Regions (six provinces) from the point of view of structure, maintenance, equipment, cleanliness and hygiene of operations, – four were satisfactory (with different levels of remarks and deficiencies) and three were unsatisfactory. There was no immediate public health risk. Serious deficiencies in official controls were observed on dairy holdings visited.

Raw milk quality standards (Section IX Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004): National derogations notified to the Commission for 2008 -2013 for all milk are still in place for sheep and goat milk. Food business operators (FBOs) take samples but these are not always analysed and laboratory performance is not always reliable. The CAs are not always notified of non-compliant results and there is no system in place to ensure notification – CA does take action when informed. There is no national system for official monitoring of FBO own checks related to raw milk parameters.

Residues: There were procedures in place for inhibitor controls in all establishments visited. However, out-of-date kits were in use in three establishments. The requirement to maintain records of treatment with veterinary medicines on milk production holdings is not enforced.

A number of recommendations have been made to the CA with a view of addressing the deficiencies identified during this audit. At least five of these or very similar recommendations have already been made in the Audit Report DG(SANCO)2010-8502, 2012-6333 and 2013-6875 but have not been properly addressed or implemented.

FVO audit – Post slaughter traceability issues in Luxembourg

An audit to Luxembourg was carried out from 25 November to 4 December 2014. The main objective of the audit was to evaluate the operation of official controls over the traceability of meat (meat of domestic ungulates, poultry, lagomorphs and game meat), minced meat, mechanically separated meat (MSM), meat preparations, meat products (hereafter referred to as meat and products thereof), and composite products containing meat and products thereof and other ingredients.

Particular attention was paid to the traceability, labelling and identification systems of meat and products thereof, and to composite products containing meat and products thereof and traceability of quantities of each ingredient used.

The Competent Authority (CA) responsible for official controls in the scope of the audit has been designated in compliance with Article 4 (1) of Chapter II of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004. The CA is still in the process of amending the National Food Law of 1953 in order to ensure that appropriate action is taken and applicable sanctions are imposed and enforced when non-compliances are identified, as required by Articles 54 and 55 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004. Within the scope of the audit, the official control plans are implemented as foreseen and are carried out in accordance with documented procedures. Official controls cover identification, labelling and traceability.

However the limited controls on additives, labelling and composition, the lack of systematic control of quantitative traceability or procedures for an in depth verification of food business operators’ (FBOs) traceability procedures and the lack of the possibility to impose administrative sanctions are undermining the effectiveness of official controls.

The CA’s control results for the selected samples indicated non-compliances, but some significant non-compliances related to traceability, labelling and/or the use of additives were not detected. While the system of official controls includes verification of FBOs’ compliance with traceability, application of identification marks and labelling, it is not sufficiently developed. Several deficiencies had not been identified during official controls, in particular, verification of the correctness of the information and content on the label, links between different traceability documents and comprehensive control on the use of ingredients additives and/or spices.

Here you can check the competent Authority answers to the Food Veterinary Office recommendations.