I. Foreign Affairs
CAFIA, as one of the supervisory bodies for food safety in the European Union market, deals with the monitoring of EC legislation in relation to the activities of the Inspection Authority, the issue of non-harmonized sphere, issues of free movement of goods and cooperates with the Ministry of Agriculture to systemize EC legislation in the area of foodstuffs. In cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and other agencies, we are also involved in the preparation of inspection missions carried out by inspectors from the European Commission. We cooperate in particular in missions performed by inspectors from the Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO, which are focused on hygiene of foodstuffs, pesticides, contaminants or GMOs. CAFIA employees also take part in FVO missions as national experts, together with colleagues from the FVO, in which they review different systems to ensure food safety in other EU countries or third countries.
Since April 2003, CAFIA experts have been actively participating in working groups and committees of the European Commission and the EU Council. Two dozen experts from CAFIA are currently appointed as guarantors or co-coordinators on these working bodies, in which they actively negotiate on behalf of the Czech Republic, comment on the issues and defend the position of the Czech Republic. CAFIA staff was also involved in activities related to the Czech Presidency of the EU Council. In addition to professional qualifications, these activities also require high-level language skills and orientation in the diplomatic environment. Regular and adequate training is provided for these experts.
CAFIA experts participate in a variety of international conferences and seminars on issues related to the application of European food law, principles of food inspection, monitoring of pesticides and contaminants, laboratory methods, free movement of goods, negotiation and decision-making processes in the EU and many other professional topics.
The conferences and other events in which representatives of CAFIA participate are not only opportunities to exchange information and expertise, but also to establish informal contacts with representatives of other inspection organizations, research institutes, the European Commission and other institutions.
Our experts who attend these educational events are no longer just in the role of passive recipients of information, but actively share their knowledge and experience with their counterparts from other countries, such as Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Palestine and others. This not only contributes to building food safety systems in third countries, but also to enhancing the good reputation of our office.
Major activities in the field of foreign relations also include preparation and implementation of programmes operated by the European Commission and EU member states.
CAFIA also participates in the activities of the informal association of representatives of supervisory authorities FLEP (Food Law Practitioners), which serves as a platform for sharing experiences and information in the performance of official inspection of foodstuffs. The Netherlands chair the FLEP organisation. Delegates from the EU countries meet once a year at the annual forum; specifically focused workshop is also held once a year and focuses on current problems (e.g. HACCP, inspection of online retailers, etc.). In addition to these activities, ad-hoc working groups are also set up to deal with other subject areas related to food safety and quality, according to the interests of their members and their professional orientations. For more information go to www.flep.org
Between 1998 and 2001, our organisation implemented the PHARE 1998 project "Support CAFIA", in collaboration with the Irish supervisory authority - the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). This project included a number of professional staff training events and telecommunications, computer and laboratory equipment was purchased for our organisation.
Strengthening Food Safety Policy
Between 2003 and 2005, an extensive inspection programme was implemented as a part of the PHARE 2002 project "Strengthening Food Safety Policy". The project, the twinning partner of which was the Greek Agricultural Research Institute NAGREF, had four main sections. In the first, twinning, part of the project the workshops were focused on different target groups from the CAFIA staff: top management, middle and lower management, methodologists, inspectors and laboratory staff.
The second part of the project was the introduction and certification of the quality management system according to ISO 9001:2000. This quality management system was implemented in CAFIA in co-operation with the Greek company Q-PLAN SA and the Czech company CS-Project s.r.o. The system was certified in August 2005 by the BVQI Czech Republic s.r.o. certification company.
The third component of the project was to build a joint information system for state administration bodies which are involved in the control of foodstuffs in the Czech Republic. In this way a joint information system was established for the State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority, the State Veterinary Administration, State Phytosanitary Administration, Central Institute for Supervising and Testing in Agriculture, Public Health Service of the Ministry of Health and the General Directorate of Customs. The Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic will become a member of this joint system from 2006. The common information system was developed in collaboration with the Luxembourg company INTRASOFT International S.A. and the Czech company Brain Systems s.r.o. The system aims to streamline the exchange of information and to further enhance the co-operation between supervisory authorities.
The fourth and last component of the project, was purchase of laboratory equipment for the CAFIA laboratory. This device is used to perform analyses to demonstrate the presence of anabolic steroids in food supplements, especially in food supplements designed for sportspeople.
Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights
In 2004, selected CAFIA staff received training in the enforcement of intellectual property rights as part of the project in the PHARE programme. The expert guarantor of the project was the Industrial Property Office and CAFIA participated in the project as one of the partners. This project was followed by the Transition Facility Programme which was also implemented by the Industrial Property Office in 2006 - 2007 under title of "Supporting Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights". CAFIA also participated in the preparation and implementation of this project. The project included making of video presentations representing each public authority that participated in the project. The training part of the project then provided training on intellectual property issues for 30 experts from CAFIA.
QUID Thematic Network
In the years 2002-2004, the Authority was involved in the international project under the 5th Framework Programme funded by the European Commission. The project involved an inter-laboratory validation of the quantitative declaration of ingredients (QUID - quantitative ingredients declaration) for selected types of food. The aim of the project was to unify the procedures used in the various laboratories in Member and Candidate States which were involved in the project, to define these procedures and identify their limitations. The project involved 26 participants from nine EU countries and five of EU candidate countries.
The DIGIT-PLANT project, which involves Czech-Flemish cooperation, has been running since 2003, and is aimed at creating tools for vegetable producers in the Czech Republic and Belgium, on the basis of EU trading standards for different commodities. The project involves representatives from the KHK Geel - Katholike Hogschool Kempen, University of Agriculture in Prague, representatives of the Vegetable Union of Bohemia and Moravia, CAFIA and the Dutch audit office Voedsel en Waren Autoriteit - VWA. CAFIA is involved in taking photos for the project and as judge for classifying products into different quality grades. These standards will be used by Czech and Flemish producers in the vegetable trade and in educating of growers.
SAFE FOOD all over Europe
In the years 2004 - 2005, CAFIA took part in the international project "SAFE FOOD all over Europe", which was realised as a part of the Small Phare programme and financed with funding from the European Commission. The project was coordinated by the Italian Regional Administration - Regione Veneto. The aim of the project was to facilitate the exchange of experience and information between experts on food safety issues in Central and Southern Europe. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Romania and Slovenia were represented in the project.
Co-operation between Czech and Austrian food inspectors in the Czech-Austrian border region
In the period between 09/2005 and 05/2006 our authority was involved in the project to improve collaboration with Austrian food safety inspectors realised within the Community Initiative "INTERREG IIIA". On the Czech side, the CAFIA Inspectorates in Tábor and Brno were involved in the project. The Austrian side were represented in the project by Amt der Oberösterreichischen Landesregierung - Government of Upper Austria and Amt der Niederösterreichischen Landesregierung - Government of Lower Austria. The main aim of the project was to facilitate exchange visits by Czech CAFIA inspectors in Austria and Austrian food safety inspectors in the Czech Republic. The project was co-financed from the state budget of the Czech Republic.
Strengthening the Official Control System of Food of Non-animal Origin coming from the Third Countries
In the first half of 2006 the Authority took part in twinning project entitled "Strengthening the Official Control System of Food of Non-Animal Origin Coming from Third Countries" (OFFCOS). The project was implemented under the Transition Facility Programme under the leadership of the Dutch supervisory authority Voedsel en Waren Autoriteit (VWA). The aim of the project was to fulfill the obligations imposed on CAFIA in the check of food imports of non-animal origin coming from third countries.
Comprehensive staff training in relation to risk management and communication
In May, 2006 eight-month twinning project entitled "Comprehensive staff training in relation to risk management and communication" was commenced. This project is funded from the Transition Facility Programme and implemented under the leadership of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (Ministerie van Landbouw, Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit). The main components of the project are training, workshops and internships designed for all levels of employees. Project activities are focused on management and risk communication in accordance with applicable EC legislation.
Another twinning project was conducted in years 2007 to 2008 and was oriented on the training of employees with regard to the new requirements of EC legislation and the development of analytical control methods.
Strengthening the Food Law Enforcement by the State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority (ENCA)
The project itself consisted of two parts. The first part was implemented in the first half of 2007 and included the delivery of the liquid chromatograph equipment for the CAFIA laboratory in Prague. The follow-up twinning part took place from September 2007 to June 2008 and included a total of 10 training activities divided into fourteen workshops and two foreign internships. The twinning partner was the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) from the United Kingdom.
Improving the implementation of the acquis in the area of Food Safety inspection (IAFS)
This twinning project, which was implemented in the first half of 2009, focused on different areas of the Acquis communautaire concerning the official control of foodstuffs. The project partner was the Austrian Institute AGES - Agency for Health and Food Safety.
The project reflected continually evolving EC food laws and its long-term effort was to improve CAFIA control activities. The project is focused on the enforcement of European food law and strengthening of our inspection and laboratory capacity. The means for achieving these goals were series of seminars and workshops in the Czech Republic and internships in the AGES agency´s laboratories. The project contained a total of fifteen different thematic training activities and five study internships.
Strengthening the Knowledge Base on Food Adulteration (FOOD FRAUD)
The inspiration for the twinning project, which was implemented between January and July 2009, was a working group report by the informal organisation of employees of official control bodies - FLEP. The project aims to comprehensively describe problems of food adulteration, misleading labelling, and to evaluate the appropriate tools for the detection of deceptive practices by producers and traders. The project included 5 workshops and 2 thematic internships for laboratory staff. The project partner was BMELV - Federal Ministry for Food Safety, Agriculture and Consumer Protection in Germany.
Strengthening Co-operation and the Development of Networks between Border Regions of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Official Food Control
On the basis of the positive feedback from the joint Czech-Austrian project under INTERREG, CAFIA decided to use funds from the ETC (see below) to strengthen the institutional co-operation between CAFIA and the State Veterinary and Food Administration of the Slovak Republic and create a network of personal contacts between inspectors operating in the border regions of both countries.
This project within the realms of the European Territorial Co-operation - S.R.-C.R. entitled "Strengthening Co-operation and the Development of Networks between Border Regions of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Official Food Control" was implemented in the first half of 2009. The project involved the CAFIA Inspectorates in Brno and Olomouc, general co-ordination was carried out by the International Co-operation Department of the CAFIA Central Inspectorate. The project partner was the State Veterinary and Food Administration of the Slovak Republic, respectively, the Regional Veterinary and Food Administrations in Žilina, Trenčín and Trnava.
Cross-border Co-operation in the Field of Food Safety between the Czech Republic and the Free State of Saxony
Following on from two previous projects within the framework of the Goal 3 Programme to promote cross-border co-operation between the Czech Republic and the Free State of Saxony, another project aimed at strengthening co-operation and contacts between inspectors in the border regions was implemented in January-April, 2011. The project also created the brochure entitled "Grenzübeschreitende Zusammenarbeit - Cross-border Co-operation", which presents the form of a comprehensive system to ensure food safety and quality on both sides of the border.
The project involved the CAFIA Inspectorates in Ústí nad Labem and in Plzeň. The project partner was the Saxon State Ministry for Social Affairs and Consumer Protection and its subordinate bodies.
System of Management Training to Strengthen the Capacity and Effectiveness of the Czech Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority
In the period 10/2010 - 10/2012, CAFIA implemented a project under the operational programme Human Resources and Employment, entitled "System of Management Training to Strengthen the Capacity and Effectiveness of the Czech Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority." The target group consisted of middle and top managers from CAFIA and the training was focused on the deepening, improvement and practical usage of, especially, soft skills. The personnel audit which has been carried out during the current project was developed in order to refine the learning needs of CAFIA staff. The educational package consisted of 6 trainings for the middle management and 4 trainings for the top management attended approximately 60 employees of CAFIA. Trainings were held in the first half of 2012 and they were concluded by joint teambuilding. Within the project, a brochure and equipment for the improvement of training were purchased.