News article

New EU food safety law

3 December 2019


The Official Controls Regulation will replace existing rules official controls for products of animal origin 

The Official Controls Regulation will come into from 14 December 2019. It will replace existing rules for official controls on products of animal origin (POAO). The UK is still an EU member state and therefore must implement the new law. 

The OCR aims to simplify the control systems for POAO. This will:

  • ensure consumer protection
  • provide confidence in EU food safety and standards
  • ensure the safety of food imported from third countries 

Changes to official controls
The regulation will impact official controls by Competent Authorities (CAs):

  • CAs must publish information about the organisation and performance of official controls 
  • CAs must provide food and feed businesses with copies of compliance reports 
  • new definition of ‘other official activities’ 
  • new rules and conditions for CAs delegating tasks relating to ‘other official activities’ 
  • clarification that sampling of animals and goods ordered on-line by the CA without identifying themselves can be used for official control - CAs must inform the business that the sample has been taken

Changes to meat and charging
Any change as a result of the OCR will be gradual. Food businesses will notice little change on 14 December 2019. 

There will be potential changes to existing ante-mortem inspection (AMI) and post-mortem inspection (PMI) activities eg: 

  • meat hygiene inspectors (MHI) possibly carrying out PMI without the official veterinarian (OV) being present; 
  • PMI in poultry slaughterhouses
  • delayed PMI
  • the PMI of bovines from herds certified as cysticercosis free

The Food Standards agency (FSA) does not plan to make changes to charges in the near future. 

The VPHTP Manual for Official Controls (MOC) and the NI Meat Charging Guide will be updated to reflect the introduction of the OCR. 

Changes affecting animal feed
Most of the changes made by the OCR affecting animal feed involve updating references to existing regulations which have been repealed or replaced. 

The key change is that enforcement authorities can obtain samples by distant communication (for example internet sales) without identifying themselves before purchase. Businesses will be advised of any sampling after delivery. 

Changes affecting shellfish 
Any food businesses that currently harvest echinoderms from unclassified areas will require the area to be classified in accordance with the new rules. 

The OCR allows businesses to keep harvesting live bivalve molluscs when health standards have not been met in Class A areas without the closure or reclassification. This may continue as long as the area and all approved establishments are under a single competent authority and are subject to appropriate restrictive measure. This must be based on a risk assessment and only on a temporary and non-recurring basis.

The sampling frequency for toxin analysis of live bivalve molluscs has been made clearer. Weekly sampling is required during harvesting periods, unless demonstrated by risk assessment that less frequent sampling is appropriate. 

More information
If you have questions about how the OCR may affect your business, contact the FSA on Email: Billy.Armstrong@food.gov.uk.