Under EU Regulation EC 669/2009, the intensity of border checks applied to fresh produce imported into the EU is determined by the degree of risk associated with the product. This is established on the basis of information from a variety of sources including RASFF notifications, reports from the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), Member States, and third countries.
In 2008 and 2010, pesticides residues were detected which exceeded permitted levels on listed vegetables imported from the Dominican Republic, namely Asian vegetables destined for niche markets in Europe. This resulted in RASFF notification alerts and prompted a series of actions. FVO visited the Dominican Republic in 2008 and 2010, providing a series of recommendations for the national authorities. At the same time border checks on fresh produce imported from the Dominican Republic were increased to a frequency of 50%. Initially this covered a range of fruit and vegetables, but later was reduced to target only listed Asian vegetables.
Such an intensity of border checks has significant implications for the export sector. It soon triggered a response by both public and private sector players in the Dominican Republic to address the FVO recommendations and to put in place measures to reduce the risk of future residue exceedences. As a result of their robust response, and in recognition of the improved level of compliance with EU pesticide maximum residue limits during 2010-2011, the control frequency for listed vegetables will now be reduced from 50% to 20% (DG SANCO news).
The COLEACP PIP and EDES Programmes have worked closely with public and private sector stakeholders to help address the FVO recommendations. Since 2010 PIP has supported Asian vegetable producers and exporters to establish systems for traceability, and provided training in food safety management and the safe use of pesticides. Alongside direct support to the supply chain, PIP is also enhancing the capacity of local support projects and services. While the Asian vegetable sector has been a major target of support, PIP is also working with other sectors including mango and avocado clusters, and organic production.
EDES signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the competent authority, the Departamento de Inocuidad Alimentaria (DIA) of the Ministry of Agriculture in 2011, to strengthen the official residue control system applicable in the Asian Vegetable sector. Five interventions took place providing technical assistance to the competent authority in this field. In addition, a field training Workshop to “train-the–trainers” was provided to improve technical skills of officials in good agricultural practices (GAP). A global analysis has been conducted of national legislation, competent authorities, surveillance and control programmes, inspection services, reporting mechanisms, and laboratory facilities. Future technical support under new Memoranda will focus on plant health inspection services and analytical laboratory capacity.
Though considerable progress has been made, some problems still exist, for example in relation to Indian okra. PIP and EDES will continue to support the Dominican fruit and vegetable export sector in the coming months and years to ensure continued and full compliance. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.