Food control In Line With the EU Standards
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the financial support by the Government of the United Kingdom assisted BiH laboratories in establishing the EU-standards-based methods for testing residues in food, which is considered an important step forward towards obtaining the permission to export animal based products to the EU market.
In times when various types of polluters represent a growing risk to the human health, it is extremely important for a state to possess an efficient control system, which ensures that the food its citizens consume is safe. A recent case of discovering aflatoxin in the regionally produced milk is another reminder of the importance for BiH to have such a system in place, which includes efficiency, know-how and professionalism of the laboratories. It is also a precondition for exporting the locally produced food products to the EU market, which could give a boost to local agriculture. đ
The currently existing food safety system in BiH is not fully aligned with the EU requirements due to the inadequacy of some parts of legislation reigning the subject in matter as well as because of the insufficient expertise within the local laboratories, which is why the latter’s testing reports in terms of the safety of the animal-based products are not accepted in the EU (apart from fishery). Although sufficiently well equipped, the laboratories until recently did not have trained personnel that would conduct complex analysis and issue the required reports and certificates. However, the situation is changing.
With the financial support of the Government of the United Kingdom and in cooperation with local partners - State Veterinary Office, Veterinary Faculty in Sarajevo, Veterinary Institute Dr. Vaso Butozan in Banja Luka and Agro-Mediterranean Institute in Mostar – UNDP has implemented two significant projects: Support to the implementation of the Roadmap for the Export of Products of animal and Herbal Origin to the EU and Training for the Food Safety Laboratories.
As an outcome of these projects five new residues testing methods were introduced and certified in line with the EU requirements which enables the local producers to outsource these analyses within the country and not in the region as it has been the case previously. Furthermore, with the new testing methods included in their list of references, the local laboratories have become eligible for taking on the implementation of an important part of the annual State Residue Control Plan which entails higher long-term incomes.
With the support of other international organizations, the number of certified testing methods is expected to further grow by the end of the year, which will create preconditions for better financial sustainability of the laboratories and their further technological development. To that end, the Government of the United Kingdom also financed special training for BiH laboratory workers in Waters Training Center in Manchester, one of the most prominent institutions of the kind in the world.
The work with laboratories should also be regarded within the context of the EU’s recent approval of the Residue Detection Programme in Poultry, Milk and Eggs from BiH, which is considered to be the first step in the process of obtaining the permit to export to the EU and which foresees the existence of capable laboratories that can perform testing and analysis as they are performed in the EU countries.
However, significant work is still ahead in order to further improve the capacities of the BiH laboratories but also to more rapidly adjust the relevant legislation. The adjustments should not only be aimed at enabling the export to the EU, but should also provide for the same degree of safety when it comes to the food consumed within the country. All this will require much stronger support by the relevant state and entity institutions.