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Federal control plan

The Federal control plan is a plan, defined for one year, on the implementation of official controls, coordinated between the states for checking compliance with food, wine and tobacco laws. It can contain programmes for product or establishment controls or a combination of the two.

In contrast to monitoring, the Federal control plan is a risk-based control programme. This means that the samples to be tested and establishments to be checked are selected based on a risk assessment. Foodstuffs, cosmetic products and commodities can be tested as part of the Federal control plan.

The testing may, for example, cover the following aspects:

  • chemical parameters,
  • microbiological parameters,
  • use of specific procedures or
  • control of labelling aspects.

Aims of the Federal control plan

The aim of the Federal control plan is to obtain information on nationwide compliance with the food, tobacco and wine laws, as well as to protect against fraud. Particularly following the introduction of new legal requirements, such as new maximum residue limits or changed labelling regulations, a nationwide evaluation of the degree of implementation or the number of non-compliances is of interest. Furthermore, information for clarifying current problems or for setting temporary maximum residue limits is also often collected within the Federal control plan. The samples to be analysed and the establishments to be controlled as part of the Federal control plan are always chosen via a risk-based approach.

Legal basis and number of samples

The overall number of samples to be taken during the official controls is specified in Section 9 of the General administrative regulation on framework control ("Allgemeine Verwaltungsvorschrift Rahmen-Überwachung") as five samples each year per 1,000 inhabitants for foodstuffs and 0.5 samples per 1,000 inhabitants for tobacco products, cosmetics and commodities. A certain proportion of the total number of samples (0.15–0.45 samples per 1,000 habitants and year) is to be tested in coordinated programs in accordance with Section 11 of the General administrative regulation on framework control. Based on a population of 82 million, this means 12,000 –37,000 samples per year. Most of these coordinated samples are currently analysed as part of the Federal control plan in about 15 – 20 programmes. Further coordinated samples are tested as part of food monitoring and coordinated programmes of the European Union in accordance with Article 53 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.

Implementation of the Federal control plan

The Federal control plan was implemented for the first time as a pilot project during the second half of 2005. It has been carried out regularly since 2006. The basis of the Federal control plan is a plan constructed by the federal government and states, which defines the selection of the samples to be tested and the establishments to be monitored as well as the distribution of controls across the states.

The Federal control plan enters into force each year on 1 January. Additional programmes on current issues may be subsequently added on request. Proposals for new programs for the Federal control plan are submitted by the federal states, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the BVL. The federal states, in agreement with the BVL, decide which proposed programmes will be carried out during the following year. As not all issues are equally relevant to all states due to regional differences, each state decides individually which programmes it will participate in and with how many samples or controls of establishments. A programme only takes place if at least two federal states are willing to participate.

Based on information from applicants, the BVL draws up detailed recommendations on performance and data transfer for the respective programmes of the Federal control plan. These recommendations can be found by the state authorities in the specialist information system for consumer protection and food safety in the section "A-Z Themen des Verbraucherschutzes (Allgemeine Dokumentation)/ Überwachung/ Kontrollprogramme/ Bundesweiter Überwachungsplan".

What are the findings of the Federal control plan used for?

The data collected by the state control authorities is collected and compiled at the BVL and evaluated in agreement with the applicants and the federal states. The results are published in the annual report on food safety (“Bericht zur Lebensmittelsicherheit”) and are used as a basis for deliberating risk management measures in the different areas.

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