Controls are organized to ensure that food products placed on the European market are compliant with European Union (EU) regulations and those of Luxembourg.
These controls aim to prevent or eliminate health risks that could arise for human beings, or reduce such risks to an acceptable level.
Food safety controls are carried out by the Food Safety Unit concerning food of non-animal origin, compound products, processed foodstuffs from plants products or of plant origin, food contact materials , food supplements and food additives.
Compound products with predominance of ingredients of animal origin (e.g.: meat, milk, butter, eggs, etc.) are subject to veterinary controls conducted by the Administration of Veterinary Services (ASV).
There are three types of controls:
- documentary: the administration verifies the regulatory compliance of the certificates, health certificate or other accompanying documents
- identity: the administration verifies the consistency between the documents and the product, by visual inspection
- physical: the administration conducts an inspection of the product itself, and may collect samples for laboratory analysis.
The control procedure depends on the type of goods, their geographical origin and the type of control to which they are subject.
- A routine food safety control is carried out on importation as defined by the multi-annual control plan of each Member State. In this case documentary control is systematic, physical control however is random according to a risk analysis.
A sample of the goods is collected and analyses are performed. The goods are not blocked while waiting for the analysis results. If a health problem is detected on the sample, an alert is launched, and if necessary a recall or withdrawal is issued.
- A reinforced food safety control is carried out on certain products defined in a list that is regularly updated according to new and known risks at the European level. Identity and physical controls are then conducted at a frequency set by European regulations.
The goods are analyzed in order to verify the absence of certain substances and they remain under the control of the authority as long as the analysis results are not conclusive.
For example: 50% of shipments of dry apricots from Uzbekistan are subject to physical and identity controls to detect sulfites.
At the same time, when it is apparent that food of community origin or imported from third countries is likely to constitute a serious risk for human health, animal health or the environment, the European Commission may take emergency measures. These consist mainly in suspension of marketing authorization or importation, the implementation of special conditions or any other measures for protection.
Legislation may even impose special import conditions for specific products originating from certain third countries. These specific import conditions may include the following: a list of third countries from which specific products may be imported, the establishment of a specific certificate model to accompany the goods, the supply of analysis results, etc.
Controls performed by authorities of a third country prior to importation may be certified by the European Commission. These controls are used to verify that the exported products will meet community prescriptions before importation. In that case, the frequency of physical controls, performed in Luxembourg when the goods arrive, is less than in the case of reinforced controls.
When these controls are certified, the frequency of controls on importation in the EU territory is reduced.
All companies in the food sector that import food products to Luxembourg or that bring food products into the European Union through Luxembourg are subject to controls.
The Food Safety Unit is responsible for food safety controls on foodtuffs of non-animal origin, fresh fruits and vegetables, food supplements and food additives as well as food contact materials, etc.
Furthermore, the Administration of Veterinary Services is responsible for veterinary controls on foodstuffs of animal origin. On their side, the Administration of Agricultural Technical Services conducts additional phytosanitary controls on fresh fruits and vegetables.