Belgium’s Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (Afsca), under fire for its late communication on the Fipronil scandal, had already been censured in March by the Court of Audit for its lack of supervision of the implementation by operators of an auto-control system aimed at ensuring food safety. The agency has come in for criticism in recent days for not providing information promptly on the discovery of traces of the pesticide Fipronil in eggs.
Compliance with food security regulations is the prime responsibility of farmers, producers, business people and other operators, each of which must have an auto-control system ensuring that the products they process satisfy safety, quality and traceability criteria issued by Afsca. The agency has to supervise their operations to make sure that the system is properly implemented.
An audit done by the Court showed that many operators were tested in recent years on their compliance with the hygiene regulations, but their auto-control systems were not checked. However, “it is not possible to assess the reliability of such a system solely on the basis of hygiene checks,” the Court had concluded.
Afsca, which studied the Court’s recommendations and proposed to take corrective action, has said, however, that the figures on which the audit was based dated back to 2013, whereas the situation on the ground has evolved since then.