Duties of the official veterinarian
Appointed and authorised by the Department of Health Affairs, the official veterinarian audits:
- The permanent application of good hygiene practice (maintenance of plant structure and equipment, plant hygiene, staff hygiene, training, processing of animal by-products not intended for human consumption, etc.)
- The procedures based on the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) system, notably in the following areas: compliance of products of animal origin with microbiological criteria, absence of excessive quantities of prohibited substances, contaminants or chemical residues, absence of physical hazards, such as foreign bodies, absence of patho-physiological abnormalities or changes, absence of contamination
The inspection tasks of the official veterinarian concern the following aspects:
- Information on the food chain recorded in plant registers, including official certificates, veterinary declarations and any additional safety measures
- Specified risk material is sampled, separated and, where appropriate, marked in accordance with (future) legislation on transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSEs)
- Microbiological testing: The official veterinarian takes samples to detect the possible presence of TSE, zoonoses, other diseases or unauthorised substances
The results of the inspection are recorded in writing and entered in the Hygiene and Food Safety Office database. Whenever a problem is identified, this information must be communicated to the operator of the meat establishment, the Minister of State and the Department of Health Affairs in the territory where the primary production plant is located. The official veterinarian shall take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the possible spread of the infectious agent.
Decisions following controls
Where controls reveal deficiencies or irregularities, appropriate measures must be taken concerning the meat.
All meat which might constitute a danger to human health shall be declared unfit for human consumption.
This concerns in particular:
- Meat from animals which have not undergone ante-mortem inspection (excluding wild game)
- Meat from animals whose offal has not undergone post-mortem inspection
- Meat from animals which were dead before slaughter, stillborn, unborn or slaughtered under the age of seven days
- Meat from animals affected by a notifiable animal disease
- Meat not in conformity with the biological and radioactivity criteria
- Meat containing specified risk materials, chemical residues or veterinary medicinal products in excess of the permitted limits, etc.
Responsibilities and frequency of controls
The Department of Health Affairs guarantees appropriate official supervision in meat establishments. The nature and intensity of the official supervision shall be based on a regular assessment of the risks to human health.
Specific requirements and risks
Certain animal diseases involve specific risks. In order to be considered fit for human consumption, meat must not reveal the presence of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, cysticercosis, trichinellosis, glanders, tuberculosis or brucellosis.
In addition to the common control requirements, specific official controls on fishery products shall be carried out at the time of landing or before first sale.
These controls may include in particular:
- Organoleptic surveillance testing
- Total volatile basic nitrogen tests
- Histamine testing
- Surveillance testing for contaminants
- Microbiological checks
- Parasite screening tests
- Checks for the possible presence of poisonous fish species or fish containing biotoxins
Fishery products shall be declared unfit for human consumption if organoleptic, chemical or microbiological checks on such products reveal the presence in excessive quantities of substances dangerous to human health.
In the event of non-compliance with the obligations laid down in this draft, the Department of Health Affairs may impose any and all health measures considered to be necessary, a ban or limitation on placing products on the market, a ban or limitation on imports or exports, the suspension or withdrawal of authorizations, the temporary closure of the establishment, etc.