The European Court of Auditors is conducting an audit of EU food safety policy.

According to the Commission, food and feed business operators—including farmers, fishermen, processors, distributors, importers, and retailers—hold primary responsibility for ensuring compliance with food law, particularly the safety of food. “To complement and support this principle, the competent authorities of the member states must carry out adequate and effective controls,” the European Court of Auditors (ECA) stated.

To this end, the ECA said it will examine whether the EU’s food safety model is soundly based and, when put into practice, keeps food products consumed in the EU safe from chemical hazards. They have also published a background paper on EU food safety policy as a source of information for those interested in the subject.

Food safety may be put at risk by three types of hazards: physical, biological, and chemical. The focus of the audit will be the control system for chemical hazards, poisonous substances that occur naturally or are added during food production or handling. Examples include cleaning agents, pesticides and certain metals.

“Audit evidence will be collected through reviews and analyses of relevant legislation, and by monitoring data, publications, and other documents,” the ECA stated in its background paper. The auditors will carry out on-the-spot visits and interviews with various Commission departments and relevant EU agencies, and consult with food industry stakeholders.

Additionally, the ECA said it has selected three member states—the Netherlands, Italy and Slovenia—for audit visits “in order to provide a picture of how systems work on the ground.” The audit report is expected to be published in late 2018.

This report will form part of a series by the ECA on various aspects of the food chain. The series also covers food waste (published in January), animal welfare (currently underway) and organic food (also planned for 2018).