Regulations aimed at modernizing protections against animal diseases and plant pests as well as improving food safety will apply beginning at the end of this week in Europe.

The United Kingdom will implement EU Smarter Rules for Safer Food (SRSF) regulations from 11 p.m. on Dec. 13. The new rules replace more than 70 existing European directives.

The package will modernize existing health and safety standards for the agri-food chain and take a risk-based approach to animal, plant and public health protection, modifying pest and disease control measures.

SRSF regulations are divided into two areas: The Official Controls Regulation (OCR) applying to companies part of trade in animals and products of animal origin (POAO); and the Plant Health Regulation (PHR) for businesses involved in the production, manufacture, supply and regulation of plants, seeds, timber and plant products.

Expected changes
The OCR was published in March 2017 and covers how inspections, audits and sampling take place to ensure consistency across the agricultural industry and food chain. It will offer more targeted and risk-based controls.

The European Commission is organizing a conference “Smarter rules for safer food and plant health” on Dec. 13 in Brussels to share best practices and increase awareness and preparedness among EU countries, interested parties and trading partners.

Speakers include Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Anja Hazekamp, vice chair, Committee on the Environment, Public and Food Safety, Jan Baele, RASFF head of sector, Petr Čejka, from the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority, Dr. Thomas Jemmi, of the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office and Dr. Ana Afonso, team leader emerging risks at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Changes for animal and animal by products businesses include using the IT system TRACES (NT) to log imports from beyond the EU and new look import forms. A new Information Management System for Official Controls (IMSOC) will link existing systems, such as RASFF, TRACES and the Food Fraud Network.

All Border Inspection Posts (BIPs) and Designated Points of Entry (DPEs) will become Border Control Posts (BCPs). Importers of live animals and animal products will need to give a BCP at least one working day, and a minimum of four hours prior notice of importation.

Importers will need to complete a Common Health Entry Document (CHED), replacing the Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED) and Common Entry Document (CED).

The regulations will apply to the U.K. in all Brexit scenarios even if it was to leave the EU without a deal.

Animal Health Regulation (EU) 2016/429 is the third part of the SRSF package and will apply from April 21, 2021.

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