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Organisational structure

The BVL was established in 2002 as the authorising and management authority for food safety and consumer protection. The BVL is an independent higher federal authority under the jurisdiction of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) with offices in Braunschweig and Berlin. The BVL's management has its headquarters in Braunschweig. The authority currently employs around 522 employees across 374 posts (as of 30 April 2013).

BVL management

The BVL is headed and externally represented by Dr Helmut Tschiersky. He is supported by the Head Office.

Organisational structure

The BVL has five departments, a Head Office and department Z. The Quality Management group reports directly to the president.

Head Office

The Head Office includes the President’s Office, Press Office and Strategic Management.

The President’s Office works directly with the president.

The Press Office of the BVL is responsible for public relations and the BVL's contacts to the media and consumers. It looks after the BVL's Internet presence, and designs and publishes scientific and generally understandable publications. The Press Office includes the main editorial office for the Journal of Consumer Protection and Food Safety and for the various BVL report portfolios. The Press Office is also responsible for the BVL's trade fair appearances. As part of its press and public relations work, the BVL communicates administrative decisions, their scientific basis, and any current or planned management measures.

Strategic Management supports the president in managing the authority. With the introduction of modern cost/performance accounting and central project control, the efficient implementation of tasks in the BVL is to be improved further. Strategic Management initiates and supervises strategic projects and projects to consolidate the organisational and operational structure of the BVL.

Quality Management group

The BVL established a special staff office for introducing, implementing and maintaining the quality management system. According to the principles of DIN EN ISO 9001 the quality manager is a representative of the headship and therefore a designated member of Head Office. He reports directly to the president. The quality manager is responsible for superordinate coordinating tasks, implementing the quality management system and related communication.

Department Z: Central Services

Department Z is divided into the units Z01 "Legal Affairs, International Affairs", Z03 "Information and Communication Technology, Information Systems", Z04 "Human Resources, Library", Z05 "Financial Resources” and Z06 “Internal Affairs".

Unit Z01 "Legal Affairs, International Affairs" provides central services for the whole Federal Office: in this unit, contracts and administrative agreements are verified and legal representation for general matters in court is provided. International affairs are also coordinated from here, e.g. initiation and supervision of projects abroad, coordination of contacts with sister institutions in other countries and organisation of visits by foreign delegates.

Unit Z03 "Information and Communication Technology" is responsible for the comprehensive creation, administration and distribution of information and web-based services. With the "Information System for Consumer Protection and Food Safety" (FIS-VL) prepared by the IT department, a web-based information platform for specialists from authorities, scientists and partners from industry was created.

Unit Z04 "Human Resources, Library" is responsible for all personnel matters regarding officials, salaried employees and trainees at the BVL. In addition, the specialist library in unit Z04 procures and manages the book and journal inventory and carries out literature searches.

Unit Z05 "Financial Resources" organises the preparation of a draft budget and monitors the use of resources. The central billing office and department for travel expenses are also located in this unit.

Unit Z06 “Internal Affairs” is responsible for procurement, organises health and safety, postal and telephone services, coordinates building projects and organises transport and driving services.

Department 1: Food, Feed and Commodities

In department 1 of the BVL, numerous tasks are carried out that contribute to food safety in Germany. It supports the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) with their tasks at government level. The government/Laender monitoring office is a common central unit which coordinates the official control of food traded on the Internet to ensure a consistent level of food safety throughout Germany on the growing Internet market.

Group 1 “Crisis Management” covers tasks to prevent and manage crises in the field of food and feed. The BVL is the designated national contact point and office for this field of tasks and temporarily establishes a specialized organisational structure in the case of a crisis. A task force of both the Laender and the federal government can also be set up in such cases. As part of the European rapid alert system, this department is also a national point of contact for the flow of information between the EU and the federal states. In the field of data management and analysis the BVL merges the data on food and feed safety collected by the Laender, assesses them and issues the required reports for the federal government and the European Commission. As a national contact point for the worldwide information system InfoSan, the BVL also contributes to food safety on an international level.

The second group “Safety of the Food Chain” issues approvals and coordinates monitoring programmes together with the federal states. Unit 106 assists in EU and third-country audits and inspections in Germany and takes on a coordinating role for veterinary matters in exporting. The unit also keeps a database of enterprises handling food of animal origin. For all consumer products and products that come into contact with food, Unit 105 undertakes the coordination of certain monitoring tasks. Unit 102 (Feed) checks applications for certificates of exemption for experimental purposes and applications for the approval of feed additives, bioproteins and diet feed. In addition, the Feed unit maintains the register of certified and/or registered feed companies and the register of border posts determined for the import of certain feed. In addition, the BVL lists pesticides that are allowed to be used for official measures in an enforcement procedure.

Department 2: Plant Protection Products

The Plant Protection Product department is responsible for authorising plant protection products in Germany and is the national coordination point for evaluating active substances in plant protection products in the EU. In the authorisation procedure, the BVL is responsible for risk management, which is designed to avoid negative effects from plant protection products on humans, animals and the environment.

Department 3: Veterinary Drugs

Department 3 is responsible for authorising veterinary drugs and participating in EU authorisation procedures in Germany. If authorised veterinary drugs produce unwanted effects, veterinarians and pharmaceutical companies are required to report this to the BVL.

Department 4: Genetic Engineering

Applications for releasing genetically modified organisms (GMO) for scientific trials are examined and decided upon by the Genetic Engineering department of the BVL. If genetically modified organisms are to be cultivated for commercial purposes, the BVL gives its opinion as the national authority in the EU's approval procedure. The Central Commission for Biological Safety (ZKBS) is situated in the Genetic Engineering department of the BVL. The ZKBS advises the federal government and federal states. In addition, the Genetic Engineering department manages the international information exchange for Germany on live GMOs in the Biosafety Clearing House.

Department 5: Method Standardisation, Reference Laboratories, Resistance to Antibiotics

The laboratories of the BVL are grouped together in department 5: Method Standardisation, Reference Laboratories, Resistance to Antibiotics. Eight national and one European reference laboratory for certain residues and contaminants support the official food monitoring laboratories. The laboratory "Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring" examines to what extent bacteria that cause illnesses to animals used for food are sensitive to different antibiotics and develops measures that counteract the development of resistance.

The department also includes the office for the Official Collection of Methods of Analysis. Its tasks are the development, standardisation and validation of sampling and analysis methods, using research groups for different product categories and methods.

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