Xylella fastidiosa- France control system not better than Italian one

This report describes the outcome of an audit carried out by the Directorate General Health and Food Safety of the European Commission in France from 3 to 12 February 2016. The objective of the audit was to evaluate the plant health situation and control measures applied for Xylella fastidiosa in the two regions of France where there are outbreaks of the bacterium.

In 2015 France carried out a comprehensive and risk based Xylella fastidiosa survey at country level and ran an intensified awareness raising campaign. The high level of alert and awareness promoted by the French authorities ensured the prompt finding and identification of the outbreaks.

Measures were implemented quickly within and outside the demarcated areas. Additional human and financial resources were mobilised, a network for large-scale sampling and laboratory testing was established and the relevant stakeholders were sufficiently informed and involved.

The demarcation, insect vector treatment, removal and destruction of host and symptomatic plants within the 100m radius of the infected plants were carried out fully in line with the provisions of Commission Decision 2015/789/EU.

However, the intensity of the surveys carried out within the buffer zones is significantly lower than that required by Commission Decision 2015/789/EU. Sampling and testing of specified plants within a radius of 100m around the plants confirmed to be infected is also not in line with the Decision. This does not allow the accurate determination of the spread of Xylella fastidiosa. In the case of outbreaks where the eradication work was completed, the sites were not revisited to remove newly identified host plants which could be infected.

Nurseries located in demarcated areas are allowed to move specified plants outside those areas without fulfilling all requirements of the Decision. It increases the risk of the movement of the pathogen to new areas.

Due to the number of recent outbreaks and the size of the demarcated area the French authorities were still implementing a large part of the measures at the time of the audit.

France has taken a number of measures showing its commitment to eradicating Xylella fastidiosa. However, the non-compliances detected reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of the eradication efforts. The risk of spread with human assistance is mitigated to some extent by that all outbreaks of Xylella fastidiosa to date have been recorded in areas with no large-scale production of plants for planting of the major hosts. The eradication efforts are further compromised by the high number of outbreaks and level of spread, particularly in Corsica. This is compounded by the multitude of identified host plants, the inaccessibility of risky areas and by uncertainties about hosts and the mode of transmission.

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.