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Chapter 12: Food Safety, Veterinary and Phitosanitary Policy

„From Field to the Fork“, a famous EU slogan, describing the way EU approaches the policies dealing with food safety and the way it ensures a high level of public health, animal health, animal welfare and plant health in order to provide its citizens with best quality products. This is achieved by using measures which relate to the whole chain of production, from processing and distribution of food to the consumer, and most importantly with an adequate supervision by the competent body during the whole process. A high level of protection of human life and health is surely one of the main objectives of EU policies. At the same time however, it is necessary to ensure the efficient functioning of the EU internal market, which is only possible if the standards related to food safety and production are consistently applied throughout the territory of EU’s 28 Member States.

Chapter 12 consists of extremely numerous regulations that include: food security, veterinary policy (such as animal health and welfare etc.), placing on the market of food, feed and animal by-products animal origin, feed safety (based on exactly the same principles as food security), phytosanitary policy (such as quality seeds, plant protection products etc.) and genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).

Food safety system in the EU is based on several principles: responsibility of the manufacturer (food and feed), traceability of food (feed components and animals traced through all stages in the chain), the application of systems analysis risk (measures implemented to protect the health must be effective, proportionate and focused), as well as the application of the precautionary principle[1] when it is necessary (in case of risk, which is not yet scientifically understood). One of the most important legislation acts in this area is certainly the Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, which lays down the general principles, requirements of food law and procedures in matters of food safety.

In order to become compliant with EU standards in this area, Serbia needs to adopt EU legislation and ensure its full implementation. This means that the authorities need to carry out inspection and supervision (in quality laboratories). Also, it is necessary to ensure that operators of food (i.e. all those who produce, process or displace food, or are in any other way involved in the chain) are adequately trained and aware of their responsibilities.

Serbia as well as other candidate countries must accept and fully implement EU legislation in this area by the time of accession. However, Serbia has already for some time been adapting to EU standards because of the importance of its trade with the EU. However, production of certain traditional products might have to go through some changes in the future if they are to be placed on the market. All products will have to meet certain standards of hygiene in order for a significant level of consumer protection to be reached. Nonetheless, Serbia will by adjusting to EU standards, among other things, improve facilities for meat production and processing, improve breeding of farm animals, guarantee better animal welfare standards, controlled use of pesticides in accordance with EU standards and a improve the system of national laboratories. On an economic side the food produced in Serbia will have a free path to European consumers and it will guarantee the same high standards of food safety also for Serbian consumers.

Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policies are quite extensively regulated policies areas. In the EC, they are managed by DG SANCO, which in its structure includes also European Food Safety Authority- EFSA. However, in the Member States and in the candidate countries different sections covered by this policy area are usually divided among various Ministries.

Contact person:
Ksenija Simović, CEP Researcher - ksenija.simovic@cep.org.rs

[1] Precautionary principle is applicable:
- where the scientific data are insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain;
- where a preliminary scientific evaluation shows that potentially dangerous effects for the environment and human, animal or plant health can reasonably be feared. (source European Commission)

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