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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smarter-rules-for-safer-food-what-we-are-doing/smarter-rules-for-safer-food
The smarter rules for safer food (SRSF) package is a set of EU regulations for the protection against animal disease and plant pests. The package will modernise, simplify and improve existing health and safety standards for the agri-food chain. It will take a risk-based approach to animal, plant and public health protection, introducing more efficient pest and disease control measures.
The package includes 3 principal EU regulations:
- Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625: how controls across the agri-food chain will be monitored and enforced – applies from 14 December 2019
- Plant Health Regulation (EU) 2016/2031: controls for protecting plants from disease and pests – applies from 14 December 2019
- Animal Health Regulation (EU) 2016/429: a framework for the principles of European animal health – applies from 21 April 2021
1. Timetable for these changes
The new Official Controls Regulation and Plant Health Regulation will apply in EU member states from 14 December 2019. The new Animal Health Regulation will apply in EU member states from 21 April 2021.
How and when the UK implements the package will depend on Brexit. If a deal is reached before exit day, there will be an implementation period until 31 December 2020. During this period, EU law will apply including the Official Controls and Plant Health Regulations. The UK will therefore need to implement these new regulations at the same time as EU member states on 14 December 2019.
In a no-deal Brexit, the SRSF regulations will not apply automatically to the UK. The UK, however, will still be affected by the changes. UK exporters to the EU will have to meet the import requirements that apply to imports from third countries.
2. About the smarter rules for safer food package
Collectively the package will replace over 70 existing European directives and regulations, helping to simplify legislation and making it easier to use for everyone involved.
It will affect individuals and businesses involved in the agri-food chain including activities such as the production, manufacture, supply and regulation of: food, feed, live animals, animal products, plants and plant products.
The 3 principal EU regulations are supported by EU negotiated tertiary legislation that add the detail to the legislation. The technical detail in the tertiary legislation can be updated quickly in response to changing situations and new technology. The UK has been working with the European Commission and other EU member states on the content of the tertiary legislation. The UK is working to make sure any new rules protect the UK’s biosecurity without putting any unnecessary burden on industry.
The UK government is also working closely with delivery bodies, the devolved administrations and crown dependencies to ensure a co-ordinated approach to regulatory implementation across the UK.
3. EU Official Controls Regulation 2017/625
The new EU Official Controls Regulation (OCR) was published on 15 March 2017 and will apply in EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside the Plant Health Regulation.
It sets out mechanisms for ensuring that responsible persons and authorities enforce the rules and must verify that businesses are complying with the legal requirements. It explains what action enforcement authorities must take when they spot such non-compliance. This covers:
- food and food safety, integrity and wholesomeness at any stage of production, processing and distribution of food
- feed and feed safety at any stage of production, processing and distribution of feed and the use of feed
- animal health requirements
- prevention and minimisation of risks to human and animal health emerging from animal by-products and derived products
- welfare requirements for animals
- protective measures against pests of plants
- requirements for the placing on the market and use of plant protection products and the sustainable use of pesticides, with the exception of pesticides application equipment
- organic production and labelling of organic products
- use and labelling of protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed
- deliberate release into the environment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for the purpose of food and feed production
The requirements of the OCR legislation cover how inspections, audits and sampling take place. It will simplify the current rules and make sure there is consistency across the entire agricultural industry and food chain by including plants and plant products and animal by-products.
The OCR will simplify and bring together several existing control rules. It repeals several pieces of EU legislation, in particular Regulation 882/2004 and Regulation 854/2004. The European Commission is currently working with EU member states on the tertiary legislation.
Some of the areas changing include:
- extending official controls to plant health and animal by-products
- increasing the transparency of controls carried out by national enforcement authorities
- creating a common framework for carrying out border controls on animals and goods entering or crossing the EU
- strengthening controls to identify fraudulent practices at an early stage
- modernising the computerised systems for the management of data and information on official controls
4. EU Plant Health Regulation 2016/2031
The EU Plant Health Regulation (PHR) was published on 26 October 2016 and will apply to EU member states from 14 December 2019, alongside Official Controls Regulation.
Plant health helps agriculture and forestry sectors remain sustainable and competitive, as well as protecting domestic biodiversity and ecosystems. Globalised trade and climate change now present a greater risk to these sectors. The new EU PHR sets out controls and restrictions that will apply to imports and internal movement of certain plants, plant pests, and other materials like soil, to help reduce these risks.
The SRSF package revises and improves the current EU plant health legislation. This will protect domestic agriculture, horticulture, forestry, parks, gardens and the environment by preventing the entry of harmful plant pests and diseases.
It will benefit stakeholders in the following ways.
For citizens, it will provide:
- better protection of landscapes and forests, public and private green spaces
- increased awareness of UK plant health measures
- reduced need for pesticide use
For growers and farmers, it will provide:
- a simpler and more consistent plant passport format
- a more harmonised approach to internal plant movement including better traceability and protection of their production
- a risk-based approach to plant health surveillance
- strengthened outbreak management processes
For businesses involved in the agri-food chain, it will provide:
- a common business register
- harmonised traceability
For public authorities, it will provide:
- EU financial support for the implementation of surveillance and eradication/containment measures
- access to EU information systems and alert response tools
The government will provide sector-specific advice to businesses and trade bodies through stakeholder events, GOV.UK and the UK Plant Health Portal. Feedback from businesses and trade bodies will help introduce the new plant health regime in a manageable way for industry.
The PHR will improve the current EU plant health legislation and repeal Directive 2000/29. The European Commission is currently working with EU member states on the tertiary legislation and the UK is participating fully in this process.
Some of the areas changing include:
- extending the scope and changing the format of plant passporting
- new requirements for authorisation to issue plant passports
- more goods imported to the EU will need a phytosanitary certificate
- new requirements for the registration of professional operators
- movements within the EU - restrictions between disease free and pest free areas
- a strengthened protected zone
- new requirements applying to high risk plants and regulated non quarantine pests (RNQPs)
- a more precautionary approach to new trade flows and a commitment to undertake thorough pest risk assessments
- new category of priority pests, including annual surveying requirements and outbreak contingency planning
5. EU Animal Health Regulation 2016/429
The EU Animal Health Regulation (AHR) was published on 31 March 2016.
The UK and other EU member states are currently in a 5-year implementation period for AHR. The new rules will apply in EU member states from 21 April 2021.
The AHR outlines the principles of European animal health, supporting:
- a quick reaction in cases of emerging animal diseases and controlling outbreaks as effectively and efficiently as possible
- a consistent approach in dealing with different animal health diseases
- reducing the effect of animal disease outbreaks on animal and public health, animal welfare, the economy and the wider rural community
- functioning of the EU internal market in animals and animal products
Animal health legislation aims to prevent outbreaks of animal disease and achieve a high level of animal health by:
- contributing to public health and food safety
- responding to public concern about the treatment of animals and the protection of the environment
- protecting farmers and the rural economy from the economic costs that animal disease outbreaks can cause
The UK currently broadly supports the AHR as a major step towards simplifying and improving animal health legislation.
The UK continues discussions with the EU on the tertiary legislation supporting the AHR. The UK aims to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity, while minimising disruption to trade in animals and animal products.