According to Indian reports, the European Commission’s visit to India starts today in Odisha. Officially the inspection by the Commission’s Health and Food Audits and Analysis team (formerly the Food and Veterinary Office, FVO) will be auditing the food safety official controls in place that relate specifically to fishery products. In view of the measures in place in the EU to protect consumers against antibiotic residues in farmed prawns, I think we can expect a certain amount of emphasis being placed in this area by the inspectors.
So what will the inspectors be looking at? Officially, the inspection will cover all aspects of food safety, and I think it will probably include a remit similar to that of the 2014 FVO audit:
“…to evaluate the performance of competent authorities and other officially authorised entities in their implementation of official controls concerning residues and contaminants in live animals and animal products, in order to assess whether these controls offer adequate assurance that the products and animals concerned, eligible for export to the European Union (EU) do not contain residues of veterinary medicinal products, pesticides and contaminants at concentrations in excess of EU maximum limits.”
The 2014 report is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/food/audits-analysis/audit_reports/details.cfm?rep_id=3325
The EU inspectors will concentrate in particular on the specific recommendations in the 2014 report. The relevant ones are:
Is there an adequate procedure that the Indian authorities use to carry out effective follow-up of non-compliant finds?
Are laboratories used for official controls adequate in terms of equipment, personnel, training, procedures certification etc.?
Have official labs improved their quality control and performance criteria since 2014, to ensure they are broadly equivalent to the performance criteria expected in European labs?
How good is awareness about antibiotic residues among relevant government officers, advisers and farmers?
Are official controls on the distribution and use of veterinary antibiotics effective? Are there procedures and controls that ensure that shrimps intended for the EU do not contain illegal residues?
Regarding the first recommendation on follow up, I would expect the European inspectors to ask about the outcomes of follow-up action taken to address the non-compliances fed back from the EU this year.
In addition there are some further clues in Decision 2016/1774, which is the piece of regulation that appeared in 2016 and introduced 50% testing of Indian shrimp at the European border. The concerns listed in the Decision refer back to the 2014 audit. There is reference to official controls on veterinary medicines being “very unsatisfactory”. The Decision says that:
“To date, the recommendations from the inspection report concerning official monitoring of aquaculture farms have not been satisfactorily addressed.”
And when will we hear the outcome of the visit? The European Commission understandably keeps all findings confidential until the report is published officially about 3 months down the line. However Indian sources may reveal some of the findings earlier, so it is worth keeping an eye on Indian press publications such as the Business Standard and The Hindu.
Source : An article by Ivan Barlow