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CAFIA Control Activities

01/22/2015
 

Procedure for check of traceability in accordance with Article 18 of the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002

Article 18 of the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety (hereinafter "Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002") imposes a general obligation on food business operators to ensure the traceability of food, feed, food-producing animals and any other substances which are intended to be incorporated into a food or feed, or for which it is assumed that they will be incorporated into them. The term "traceability" is defined in Article 3, Paragraph 15 of the Regulation as follows: the ability to trace and follow at all stages of production, processing and distribution of food, feed, a food-producing animal or substance intended to be incorporated into a food or feed, or for which it is expected that this will be incorporated into food or feed.
Article 18 of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 lays down obligations through the goals to be achieved, however, it does not define the procedures that must be followed to achieve the objectives. Thus, although there is an obligation to establish a system to ensure traceability, the procedure leading to the fulfillment of this obligation is not further specified. This means that the compulsory subject must implement a traceability system and during an inspection, it must show that the implemented system meets the general requirements of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002. Therefore, from the perspective of CAFIA, there is no other alternative than to evaluate traceability systems individually, depending on the specific situation, because an exhaustive list of processes leading to the fulfillment of this obligation does not exist.
A further problem with Article 18 of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 is that it does not specify what records on the food and its traceability must be kept by the food business operator. In our opinion, Article 18 of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 requires food business operators to be able to identify each supplier (food, feed, food-producing animals and any other substances which are intended to be incorporated into a food or feed, or for which it is assumed it they will be incorporated into food or feed) and the companies which supplied them with these items (requirement "one step back - one step forward").
The nature of Article 18 of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 means that the requirement of "one step back - one step forward" is not sufficient to meet the requirement for traceability, as it is necessary to have information on which product was delivered/supplied in this way. It is in the interests of food companies that the individual products, whether supplied or delivered, are itemised in detail, because the lack of information in the company traceability "system" could lead to a wider impact of any measures imposed. However, it depends on every food producer how they ensure the requirements of traceability in their own companies. We cannot confirm, that the only way to ensure unmistakable identification of foods complying with the requirements for traceability is to state the batch number or use by date / best before date of the food in the accompanying documents.
Regarding the procedures used by inspectors, if an inspection of traceability "systems" detects an unsatisfactory or non-existent traceability "system", measures will be imposed to eliminate these shortcomings. In the absence of detailed regulation, it is essential that if remedial measures are imposed, they must be properly justified and must not undermine the legal certainty of the compulsory subjects. The procedures used by inspectors for the purposes of checking compliance with Article 18, paragraph 2 of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 (after a request for information about the producer´s traceability "system"), in the case of finding that the traceability system is set up in such a way that it is not possible to identify food lots, an operator should be notified that, due to the impossibility of accurate identification, any measures imposed may concern larger quantities of foodstuffs.
In our opinion, Article 18, Paragraph 4 of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002, allows for the introduction of special traceability regulation for certain commodities or sectors (e.g. Regulation of the European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No. 1830/2003 concerning the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms and traceability of food and feed products produced from genetically modified organisms and amending Directive 2001/18/EC).
 
 
 

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