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EU assesses food safety situation in Western Balkans

The European Commission studied the progress of the food safety system in countries trying to become EU member states.

The report covers many sectors and developments over the past year in Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was found to have made no progress in the field of agriculture, which includes food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policies, and fisheries, with preparations mainly in

Salmonella control in Bosnia
Countries must adjust food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policies with EU and strengthen administrative ability. More efforts are needed to develop and adopt a national fisheries and aquaculture strategy and to coordinate data collection.

Preparation of national food and hygiene reference laboratories should be expedited to provide up-to-date national salmonella control plans, meet standards for export of edible eggs to the EU, and maintain brucellosis vaccination.

Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to improve systems to ensure the export of cattle, sheep, and goat meat. The country needs to align its official food and feed control system with the EU and introduce comparative testing between laboratories.

No progress in establishing reference laboratories in the country for testing, control and monitoring of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food and feed.

Ensure resources for Kosovo
Some progress has been made in phytosanitary policy.

The long-standing problem of transferring 75 inspectors from the municipality to the Kosovo Food and Veterinary Service was resolved. However, it is necessary to ensure that the authorities have sufficient financial resources for inspectors.

Food and veterinary laboratories participated in the proficiency testing of EU reference laboratories. However, no progress has been made in gaining international accreditation.

Some progress has been made in the development of an IT infrastructure for managing food control and traceability and a laboratory information management system for food establishments.

Kosovo imposed export restrictions on some products including wheat, maize, cereals, flour and edible oils in April 2022 without explanation or prior consultation with the European Commission. The EU said the measures should be lifted immediately unless there is a good reason.

Problems in Albania
Albania in including food safety, veterinary and Most areas, including phytosanitary, have some level of preparation, but progress has been limited.

Albania needs to strengthen official controls and train staff to implement the annual inspection plan. The State Food Administration has not improved the quality of inspection statistics, not just the number of inspections or measures taken against infringement.

Alignment with the European Union in terms of microbiological standards for food; hygiene requirements for meat and meat products and maximum levels of pesticide residues in fruits, vegetables and fresh and processed seeds.

Improved data management is needed to reduce the administrative burden of planning and reporting risks – based on official controls and ensuring transparency of national data. The laboratory network also needs to be strengthened.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the Finnish Food Authority (Ruokavirasto) are helping Albania improve food safety as part of a project that started in 2019 and will end in early 2023.

Next year, Albania should develop a national food safety policy and adjust the relevant laws on official control, animal health and plant health.

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