European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

European Law Monitor newsBetter Training for Safer Food: Commission publishes first annual report

The European Commission's Better Training for Safer Food initiative got off to a strong start in 2006, with 1400 participants from around 100 countries attending workshops on a wide variety of topics linked to EU food and feed controls. The aim of the training workshops is to ensure that official control authorities fully understand and properly enforce EU food and feed law, animal health and welfare rules and plant health legislation. The first annual report on Better Training for Safer Food, which was published on 24 May 2007, gives a detailed outline of the training activities carried out in 2006. It also provides some information on the feedback that the Commission received from attendees. Finally, the report describes the planned programme for 2007 and looks at how future training programmes should be carried out in order to achieve the best results.

Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health, said: "The Better Training for Safer Food programme is another example of concrete action taken by the Commission to ensure that European consumers are delivered the safest food possible. The annual report reveals a busy and productive first year for this programme, and I am confident that it will continue to grow and develop over the coming years to produce impressive results in terms of food safety."

Better Training for Safer Food

Better Training for Safer Food is an ambitious programme to provide training to EU and third country officials responsible for checking that EU food and feed safety, animal health and welfare, and plant health rules are applied. In providing this training, the Commission aims to ensure that the control authorities have a full and uniform understanding of EU rules in these areas, so that food and feed put on the EU market meets the high safety standards expected. The programme also aims to encourage the exchange of information and development of new professional relationships between participants. A budget of €4 million was allocated for the Better Training for Safer Food initiative in 2006.

A busy start

In 2006, 34 different training events took place under the framework of Better Training for Safer Food. The EU-based training covered five areas, namely HACCP[1]; animal welfare at slaughter and in disease control situations; animal by-products; veterinary checks at airport border inspection posts; and veterinary checks at seaport border inspection posts. The majority of participants in these sessions were from EU control authorities nominated by their respective Member States and funded by the Commission.

In these cases, the main aim of the Better Training for Safer Food is to familiarise official control staff with EU import requirements, thereby facilitating access to the EU market for third country products and ensuring the safety of EU imports.

However, a number of candidate and third country representatives, and some members of the private sector, also took part. Moreover, two programmes designed specifically for third countries were carried out in 2006, focussing on EU standards for fishery products and for fruit and vegetables. EU experts were also sent to South East Asia to help authorities in affected countries to develop strategies to control Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

Looking ahead

In 2007, the Better Training for Safer Food programme is expanding, with 62 different training events scheduled, covering 12 topics. The annual report outlines how the training for 2007 was sculpted largely on the basis of feedback and experience from the previous year, and following consultation within the Commission and with Member State representatives. It was decided that the training programmes which ran in 2006 should continue during 2007. In addition, five new training programmes have been introduced for 2007. Three of these are EU-based and cover zoonoses and microbiological criteria in foodstuffs, controls on food contact materials, and the evaluation and registration of plant protection products. Two new training programmes have also been devised for third countries: a training session on food testing for laboratory staff in Association of South-East Asian Nations member states, and training on the EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. A budget of €7.5 million has been allocated to Better Training for Safer Food activities in 2007.

For more information, see:

Reproduced with the permission of the European Commission REF IP/07/703