Brief summary of the EWFC meeting in Newport (UK)

Over the second week of September, The Board and General Assembly of the EWFC convened in Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire - UK.

Newport2The proposals by the European Commission to change EU Regulation 882/2004, which governs official controls in the food and agriculture industries, and proposed changes to poultry meat inspection, were once more at the top of the agenda.

This meeting was in association with the 50th Annual Seminar of the Association of Meat Inspectors Trust.

The joint meeting allowed EWFC members to better understand how meat inspection is carried out in the UK, and to update their knowledge concerning the rules and technology of animal welfare at slaughter.

It was also a precious opportunity to make face to face contact with other delegates such as, Mr. Jason Aldis of Union of European Veterinary Hygienists (UEVH), Mr. Paul Bell of the strong public services trade union, UNISON… and exchange points of views about various relavent topics.

National reports from each member serve to facilitate discussion about regulations and practices in food control and meat inspection, common problems encountered and incidents such as criminality or disease outbreaks and their management. 

Here are some brief extracts from the national reports:

Austria, if a simple infringement of the hygiene rules occurs in the kitchen of an Austrian food business (part of a big association), the authorities would look for the person responsible, if they cannot identify anyone responsible in the premises concerned they have no option but to give the parent organisation a penalty. Often, however, the legal procedure is then stopped.

As the EU is a common market there should be one set of rules and procedures in these circumstances.

The United Kingdom Food Standards Agency remains committed to the preservation of animal welfare and have called for an increased diligence from its operational staff to ensure that a proven track record in this area is maintained.

A Cryptosporidium outbreak in the water supply in Lancashire has been declared to be over and the general public informed that the advice to boil their domestic water supply has been withdrawn in mid September.

Concerns remain about the proposed draft of regulation 882 and increasingly, concerns about the Trans Atlantic Trade in Partnership (TTIP).

Staff Working in Irish Official Control: The official agencies report annually to the Food Safety Authority Ireland on the staff resources they have dedicated to official controls, under the service contracts. Recent years have seen a trend of a decrease in staff numbers as a result of the moratorium on public sector recruitment. The decrease has continued, with most agencies reporting reduced staff numbers in 2014 as per the previous year. Minister Coveney and O'Neill Announce Major Changes to Brucellosis Controls.

Germany starts moving for the Revision of the regulation for food inspection staff.
The Land Schleswig-Holstein has addressed a request to the Federal Council, in which the revision of the currently valid law particularly in terms of raising skill levels and the adaptation of the training/education contents is required. This request was forwarded by the Federal Council to the committee responsible for the discussion, in which now the representatives of the federal states have to decide on the further development. Were also mentioned fees for regularly inspections, the Risk Assessment Workshop Paris, German Food Specification Commission revision, and the report of the official auxiliaries/meat inspectors in Germany: After the EU Regulations 216 - 219/2014 came into force on 1 June 2014, it took a few months until veterinary administrations laid open their intentions. In many companies the inspection staff will be reduced with the implementation of these EU regulations.

France reached the status of "negligible risk country” for Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)…

And as for the most part of members were discussed the revision of 882 and official controls guidelines for 2016.

The reports also facilitate the exchange of ideas.  Training events were identified for members’ consideration and the next congress to be run by EWFC was also discussed. 

This event will be in the spring of 2016 and is likely to be held in Brussels. This is an important date for EWFC as it will also mark our 25th anniversary. Details will be communicated soon.

A highlight in the life of an association, the General Assembly of the EWFC has permitted us to measure the work that has been done over the past two years: The General Secretary’s activity report showed that EWFC had been active in promoting the professional interests of its members, but primarily concentrated on issues of food safety, working tirelessly to defend independent qualified official controls.

Newport1

The board also re-elected as required by EWFC statutes:
- The retiring president, Ian Robinson (UK), handed over to new president Benoît Meurice of Belgium whose turn it was to assume this responsibility.
- Half of the board positions were re-elected.

The new officers are:

Secretary General Stephane Touzet (France), as treasurer Sylvia Palace (Belgium) and as First Assessor Katrien Vekeman (Belgium). All these were elected for a period of four years.

It was also necessary to elect a Deputy Treasurer for the next two years as Wilfried Kuck (Germany), who occupied this position after having been a brilliant treasurer for many years but also being one of the founders of the EWFC, asserted his right to retire and decided to devote himself to his new responsibilities as a grandfather.

In addition to the many testimonies of thanks and regards, Wilfried Kuck, from Germany, was honored with the EWFC plaque of Merit. The next board meeting will be associated to the EWFC seminar in Brussels on the 9th of June 2016.