Bulgaria – Organic control system flawed

This report describes the outcome of a DG Health and Food Safety audit in Bulgaria, carried out between 16 November 2015 and 27 November 2015, under the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official food and feed controls.

The objective of the audit was to evaluate the controls on organic production and labelling of organic products.

The report concludes that the control system in place in Bulgaria cannot provide assurance as regards compliance of the operators with the organic production rules. The supervision carried out by the Competent Authority failed to identify the systematic shortcomings in the performance of the Control Bodies.

The preparation and the timing of the inspection visits are often inadequate and the number of inspections assigned to inspectors is very high. As a result, controls are often superficial and inspectors do not identify gross non-compliances. Even if major irregularities are found, they are not notified either to the Competent Authority or to other Control Bodies and the enforcement measures applied are neither dissuasive nor proportionate.

Some subcontracted activities are not always subject to the same level of controls as activities carried out by certified operators. The number of additional inspections, unannounced inspections and samples taken is insufficient and the selection of the operators for these controls is not always risk-based.

(Source: DG Sante website)

Organic Production – FVO audit in Greece

The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) carried out n an audit in Greece from 11 to 22 November 2013, in order to evaluate the control systems in place for organic production and labelling of organic products, in particular, the implementation of the requirements as set out in Regulation (EC) No 834/2007.

A comprehensive control system is in place covering all stages of production, preparation and distribution of organic products. Effective and efficient controls take place at operators covering all relevant aspects, including a systematically performed mass-balance at all types of operators for the entire period between inspections. Adequate communication, co-ordination and co-operation within and between Competent Authorities, Control Bodies and operators takes place allowing for the exchange of information as necessary and for appropriate action to be taken in cases of identified non-compliances. Sanctions and fines imposed are effective, proportionate and dissuasive. The system provides, in general, sufficient guarantees that EU rules for organic production are complied with.

Some shortcomings were identified with regard to checks of cleaning records at processors with parallel production, sampling for pesticide residues and random inspections at operators.

The report makes a number of recommendations to the Greek authorities, aimed at rectifying the shortcomings identified and enhancing the implementing and control measures in place. The most interesting recommendations is the following:

“Ensure that random inspections at operators are unannounced as required by Article 3(2) of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 and Article 65(4) of Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008.”

That should by quite obvious principle but in my experience also in othe MS (Italy included) too often the inspections, especially from the control bodies in the organic sector, are known in advance by the FBO.