The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee is engaged in correspondence with the Department of Health on the matter of European Parliament amendments to the Official Controls Proposal and expresses concern about the bid to amend the established role of Environmental Health Practitioners in the UK.
The European Commission's Animal and Plant Health Package, proposed in 2013, comprises of four interconnected Proposals on Animal Health, Plant Reproductive Material (PRM), Plant Health and Official Controls.
The Official Controls Proposal aims to amend the current Official Controls framework to ensure compliance with feed and food law, animal health and welfare, plant health, plant reproductive material and plant protection product rules. Official controls are those activities undertaken by Member States and their designated enforcement authorities for verifying compliance of businesses with feed and food legislation (e.g. inspections, surveillance, sampling and analysis). Official Controls also include those activities undertaken by the European Commission to evaluate the performance of national control systems (e.g. inspections by the Food and Veterinary Office).
The European Parliament has proposed an amendment, which would place product of animal origin processing plants under the control of an Official Veterinarian (OV). Unlike in other Member States, this control function is carried out by Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) in the UK. The Sub-Committee wrote to the Government on 20 November to express its concerns about the effect that the adoption of this amendment would have on the Official Controls regime in the UK stating that although different from many other Member States, the UK's official controls regime should not be overturned simply for the sake of uniformity.
The Sub-Committee asked the Minister what action the Government is taking to influence Members of the European Parliament and to promote the UK position and what effect the adoption of the amendment would have in the UK. The Minister has now responded, stating that 2,767 UK product of animal origin processing plants would be affected by the amendment, and that port health authorities would have to employ additional official veterinarians to supervise controls carried out on fish.
The Sub-Committee has retained the Proposal under scrutiny.