Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Annex 2

Letter to the Director of the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office from DEFRA's Chief Veterinary Officer

INSPECTION MISSION REFERENCE NUMBER: DG(SANCO)/3387/2001

FVO MISSION TO THE UNITED KINGDOM FROM 15 TO 26 OCTOBER 2001 CONCERNING BORDER INSPECTION POSTS

  Further to my letter of 3 May 2002, I am now writing to advise you of the measures we have undertaken to address deficiencies highlighted in the report on the above mission. The annex to this letter sets out the specific measures undertaken at each BIP to address deficiencies in the facilities or procedures, which needed to be carried out within a three-month window—ie by 1 July 2002. Structural deficiencies, for which a six-month window is allowed, are not included in this list, but will be the subject of a further letter in October.

  I set out below details of the measures undertaken by DEFRA to address the points made in relation to its role as the UK Central Competent Authority.

TRANSPOSITION OF COUNCIL DIRECTIVE 97/78/EC

  The Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) Regulations 2002 transpose into domestic law the provisions of Council Directive 97/78. They came into force on 22 May 2002 and are available on the HMSO website http://www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/si/si200212.htm. Similar Regulations came into force in Wales on the same day. Scotland and Northern Ireland expect to have their regulations in place later this year.

SUPERVISION OF BORDER INSPECTION POSTS (BIP)

  The regular monthly liaison visits to BIPs by SVS staff mentioned in my letter of 3 May have now begun. Deficiencies requiring immediate action will henceforth be addressed as they are identified and progress will be monitored. A quarterly report on each BIP will identify any longer-term problems, solutions to which will then be agreed with the BIP operators and the relevant local authority. The supervision will provide greater opportunities for the CCA to identify and promote good practice. The system has been piloted at 15 BIPs and will be introduced nationally in July.

OFFICIAL VETERINARY SURGEONS (OVS) MANUAL (BIP MANUAL)

  The existing OVS manual (now known as the BIP manual) has been comprehensively rewritten to incorporate the instructions issued in June 1999 which reflect the provisions of Council Directive 97/78 and related Decisions. I enclose a copy for your information.

ANIMO

  The BIPs at Aberdeen, Belfast, Bristol, Thamesport, Milford Haven, Hull and Grimsby and Immingham are now able to use the ANIMO system. However, Heathrow products BIP is still experiencing problems which have been traced to their communications link. Their computer system is being upgraded in mid-July and we anticipate that this will correct the fault. Checks on the operation of the ANIMO system will form part of the monthly BIP liaison visits.

LIAISON WITH CUSTOMS

  DEFRA and HM Customs and Excise officials have jointly reviewed instructions to their field staff ensuring that the list of products which require veterinary checks is complete. Copies of Commission Decision 2002/349/EC have been sent to the Customs official responsible for their CHIEF computer system and the profiles are being updated so that the products of animal origin listed in the Decision are flagged for veterinary inspection. All Official Veterinary Surgeon information notes issued by the CCA are now being copied to Customs for distribution to their field staff.

OVS TRAINING

  We have undertaken two one-day seminars, on 10 and 19 June 2002, to update Official Veterinary Surgeons on the provisions of our new Regulations. An OVS training course, for new OVSs and SVS Veterinary Officers involved in supervision of BIP operations will be held between 16 and 18 July 2002. SVS officers will also provide ongoing training to OVSs and BIP operators during their monthly liaison visits to BIPs.

  However, we still look forward to receiving details of the guidelines on OVS training which the Commission is obliged to provide under Article 27 of Council Directive 97/78/EC.

NATIONAL MONITORING PLAN FOR RESIDUES, PATHOGENIC AGENTS AND OTHER DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES

  Samples are taken at Border Inspection Posts to be tested for residues, pathogenic agents and other dangerous substances. Instructions to BIPs specify that such samples should be taken from 1 per cent of consignments and sent for laboratory testing.

  A National Plan for monitoring residues in imported animal products is in place, the testing being the responsibility of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

  Other testing is currently carried out on the basis of local plans, which reflect the throughput of each particular BIP. Under the Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) Regulations 2002 (and similar legislation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), BIPs are required to submit to the central competent authority regular returns detailing the samples they have taken, the tests carried out on them and the results of those tests.

  We are currently drawing up a National Plan to encompass these tests as well as residue testing, in consultation with the various agencies involved.

NON-APPROVED RUSSIAN FISHERY VESSELS

  The UK has sought clarification from DG SANCO that freezer vessels are covered by Commission Decision 97/102/EC. We await clarification on this matter and will take appropriate action immediately upon notification of the correct interpretation of the Decision.

CERTIFICATES AND CAPTAIN'S DECLARATIONS FROM FACTORY VESSELS

  It is not clear what certification or declaration is acceptable from factor vessels and the UK would welcome discussion of the matter with the Commission to ensure that any legislation put in place in the UK complies with Commission expectations.

THAMESPORT STRUCTURAL ISSUES

  We have received a preliminary action plan from Thamesport for the construction of a new border inspection post facility. The timetable for the project does not envisage completion before May 2003. We expect to receive an outline design for the new facility this month and will write again when we have assessed it.

4 July 2002


 
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