EU Rapid Alerts
RASFF legal basis
The legal basis of the RASFF is Regulation EC/178/2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety (O.J. N° L 31 of 1 February 2002). In Articles 50, 51 and 52 scope and procedures of the RASFF are defined.
Article 50 identifies the members of the system and sets out when a RASFF notification is required:
When a RASFF member has any information about a serious health risk deriving from food or feed, it must immediately notify the European Commission using RASFF.
In particular, RASFF members have to notify the Commission if they take such measures as withdrawing or recalling food or feed products from the market in order to protect consumers’ health and if rapid action is required. They also have to notify if they agreed with the responsible operator that a food or feed should not be placed on the market if the measure is taken on account of a serious risk. The same applies when the product in question is placed on the market under conditions.
Article 51 gives the Commission the power to adopt measures implementing Article 50. A Commission Regulation is being drafted together with more detailed guidelines with implementing measures for the RASFF. Their adoption is scheduled for early 2010.
Article 52 sets out the confidentiality requirements for the RASFF. Information in the RASFF shall in general be available to the public, but members of the network are not allowed to disclose any information which by its nature is covered by professional secrecy.
There are two kinds of RASFF notifications: market notifications and border rejections. A member of the network sends a market notification when a risk is found in a food or feed product placed on the market. A border rejection is sent when a product was refused entry into the Community.
There are two types of market notifications: alert and information notifications. Together with the border rejections and the news notifications, that makes a total of four. They are explained here below:
Alert notifications are sent when a food or feed presenting a serious health risk is on the market and when rapid action is required. The RASFF member that identifies the problem and takes the relevant actions (e.g. withdrawal of the product) triggers the alert. The goal of the notification is to give all RASFF members the information to confirm whether the product in question is on their market, so that they can also take the necessary measures.
Information notifications are used when a risk has been identified about food or feed placed on the market, but the other members do not have to take rapid action. This is because the product has not reached their market or is no longer present on their market or because the nature of the risk does not require rapid action.
Border rejections concern food and feed consignments that have been tested and rejected at the external borders of the EU (and the European Economic Area – EEA) when a health risk has been found. The notifications are sent to all EEA border posts in order to reinforce controls and to ensure that the rejected product does not re-enter the EU through another border post.
Any information related to the safety of food and feed products which has not been communicated as an alert or an information notification, but which is judged interesting for the control authorities, is transmitted to the members under the heading ‘News’.
Through this link you will be able to download RASFF Annual Reports from previous years