We have been approached by some of our members concerning the exemptions of diagnostic food samples from official controls at the border control posts under Regulation (EU) 2017/625 (‘Official Controls Regulation OCR’).
As an example, some independent food-testing laboratories operating in Germany used to be able to obtain exemptions from the border control procedure while importing food samples for analytical/laboratory purposes from third countries. At a national level, this has been made possible by the § 18 (3) of the German Food Import Regulation (Lebensmitteleinfuhrverordnung- LMEV), based on the (former) Directive 97/78/EC. While replacing the Directive 97/78/EC by the Regulation (EU) 2017/625 – as informed by the national authorities – it is not possible any more to obtain new importing permissions for food samples according to §18 (3) LMEV. According to art. 48 of the Regulation (EU) 2017/625, only the EU-Commission is empowered to establish exemptions from the official boarder control procedure (art. 47, (EU) 2017/625), by means of delegated acts. Up to now, this hasn´t been explicitly established for goods samples according to art. 48a of the Regulation (EU) 2017/625, but solely an exemption has been made by means of the Delegated Act 2019/2122, for goods samples for research and diagnosis purposes, and this – as far as we know – for animal by-products only (according to art. 2, Nr.1 Delegated Act 2019/2122).
As a follow-up on the issue regarding the exemptions from the official boarder control procedure for food samples from third countries, we have discussed it within the Food and Heath Committee of TIC Council as well and we have decided to submit a joint EUROLAB & TIC Council letter to the European Commission.
This letter is intended to seek support as the testing, inspection and certification sector requests for EU-wide rules regarding the exemption of food samples from import controls. This exemption will enable the sector to continue food sampling and controls as in the past, before the current Regulation’s implementation. As such, our sector will continue contributing to food safety in the EU and in third countries as further explained in the enclosed letter.