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Food Safety

How does TRACES work

EU law requires consignments of animals, animal products, certain food and feed of non-animal origin and the majority of plants to be accompanied by official certificates, attesting compliance with the applicable requirements.

When such consignments are imported into the EU or traded within the EU single market, TRACES supports the issuing of official certificates and the recording of official controls and route planning, quickly and efficiently online.

National competent authorities and economic operators complete official certificates online in TRACES and the control authorities at EU border or at the final destination check the consignments and their accompanying documents to allow them to enter and/or move through the EU.

In this way, the control authorities at EU border or at destination are pre-notified of the arrival of a consignment and therefore can plan their controls e. In the case of the transport of live animals further checks and controls regarding animal welfare can be performed and recorded.

Feedback on the final decision taken on the consignment following the controls performed is available to those parties concerned with the consignment.

With its user-friendly interface, available in 34 languages, TRACES allows for the interaction between the private sector and the competent authorities, of both EU and non-EU countries, and significantly diminishes the administrative burden for all the involved parties, working on the same platform.

Benefits of using TRACES

For operators
  • Speed up of the administrative procedures being on the same platform as their authorities and benefiting from a cloning tool; transforming certificates into entry documents;
  • Access to the latest certificate models according to EU law or negotiated between trading partners;
  • Facilitate trade interactions thanks to the multilingual application;
  • Enable consultation of any stage of the certification process, including decision taken on consignments.
For consumers
  • Facilitate traceability of the food chain:
  • Enhance the safety of the agri-food chain;
  • Support a prompt risk management in case of health threats.
For competent authorities
  • TRACES is managed and maintained by the European Commission and its use is free of charge for any competent authorities and operators in the world, including paperless certification;
  • Ensure a degree of uniformity at Union level with regard to the performance of official controls along the agri-food chain;
  • Simplify administrative procedures and contribute to the efficient performance of official controls by the different responsible authorities.
  • Accommodate the different practical arrangements for official controls, including for the effective follow-up to such controls in their territory;
  • Support the determination, modification and application of the uniform minimum frequency of official controls according to the categories of animals or goods concerned;
  • Provide a tool for the collection of information and for monitoring and reporting on the performance of official controls or the outcome of official controls;
  • Harmonise the implementation of laws and procedures in cooperation with other information systems (Customs, RASFF);
  • Facilitate international cooperation and exchange of information between competent authorities, including decisions taken on consignments;
  • Enhance cooperation and exchange of information between authorities and operators in relation to the arrival of animals and goods;
  • Help trace operators’ past records and identify possible violations to the rules including those perpetrated through fraudulent or deceptive practices;
  • Support the fight against criminal activities along the agri-food chain shared between different competent authorities.
For animals
  • Help prevent or reduce to a minimum any delay between the loading of the animals and their departure, or during the transport leading to an increased care towards animal welfare and animal health;
  • Ensure traceability of animals to prevent introduction and spread of transmissible animal diseases;
  • Ensure an efficient organisation and performance of the controls of animal diseases presenting a risk to animal or public health.
For animal products
  • Ensure traceability to help prevent, minimise or mitigate the risks to public or animal health arising from those products;
  • Support the performance of official controls to respond to recognised or specific hazards and risks to human and animal health.
For plants
  • Ensure traceability to avoid introducing plant pests and prohibited plants in the EU;
  • Support efforts for the control of plant pests for which measures are in place to prevent their introduction into and spread within the entire Union territory;
  • Help ensure effective and timely action is taken where a plant pest is found to be present or suspected of being present.
For food and feed of non-animal origin
  • Support measures requiring a temporary increase of official controls and special import conditions applied to goods presenting a risk to public health;
  • Facilitate access to information on decisions taken on consignments and appropriate corrective actions to be applied by competent authorities.

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