About the notifications
Members of the Alert and Cooperation Network (ACN) are appointed a single contact point (SCP) responsible for sending ACN notifications via iRASFF, the common online platform created by the European Commission, which access is restricted to members’ competent authorities. Before a notification is sent, a lot of work has happened upstream:
a) National authorities inspected an agri-food product placed on the market, physically or online, or presented at the EU border. They may have taken samples and received the results from the laboratory
b) Companies carried out own-checks and informed their competent authority
An agri-food product was found non-compliant and therefore needs to be reported.
The national authority decided to report this non-compliance to the ACN, using its SCP, and possibly asking for assistance from other members.
Before notifying the ACN, the SCP verified and validated the notification in iRASFF, detailing the findings and measures taken while adding any relevant documents, such as bills, lists of companies having received the products, analytical reports, etc.
What happens next depends on the type of notification:
A non-compliance notification can concern any non-compliance with EU rules, be it on food, feed, plant health or animals, anything covered by Regulation (EU) No 2017/625 that neither presents a risk which would make it notifiable in RASFF nor involves a potential fraud. Non-compliance notifications are circulated within the AAC. The SCP shares the notification with any other members who need to be informed or whose assistance is required.
If a potential non-compliance represents a serious risk related to food or feed, it must be notified in RASFF. The SCP has to circulate it to the RASFF immediately. This first notification can be supplemented by follow-up notifications to provide subsequently additional information. The European Commission verifies as necessary that the information circulated is appropriate, turning to SCPs to supplement it, if needed.
The RASFF notifications are categorised and labelled to ease their handling. The following categories are used:
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 who identifies the problem and takes the relevant measure (e.g. withdrawal of the product from the market) 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 RASFF members do not have to take rapid action. This is because the product has not reached their market or is no longer present in 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 RASFF members under the heading News.
All ACN members have the possibility to bring to the attention of the EU Agri-Food Fraud Network (FFN) any non-compliances suspected to be intentional with a purpose of deceiving and gaining undue advantage. Fraud notifications are exclusively available to members of the (FFN). The following fraud categories are used in iRASFF by the notifying competent authorities:
Adulteration and product tampering
Addition of a foreign or inferior quality substance or element; by replacing a more valuable substance or element with less valuable or inert ingredients, so that they no longer match the implicit or explicit claims associated with the agri-food product. (Substitution, Dilution, Removal, Unapproved/undeclared enhancement and concealment, Unapproved/undeclared treatment, process or product, etc.)
Intellectual Property Right (IPR) infringement, including any aspects of the genuine agri-food product or packaging being replicated, for instance the process of copying the brand name, packaging concept or processing method for economic gain).
The process of creating, adapting, altering, misrepresenting or imitating documents such as certificates, passports, analytical test reports, declarations of compliance and other identification, administrative documents.
Grey market activities
Production, theft, and diversion involving unauthorised sales channels for agri-food products (traceability issues).
Placing of explicit false claims or distorting the information on the label/packaging. (Expiry/production date, Nutrition/health claims, Geographical claims (excluding PGO, PDI, TSG), Quality terms, Quantity – weight/volume, etc.)
Learn more about the ACN
- The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)
- The Administrative Assistance and Cooperation (AAC)
- The EU Agri-Food Fraud Network