Nenad Budimović, Secretary General, Association For Livestock And Processing Of Livestock Products, Serbian Chamber Of Commerce:

Product Control From Farm To Table

It is possible to establish complete control of products – from the farm to the table – and this is the objective of the whole concept of safe food production: primary producers, transport, processing and production of food, distribution and retail storage

An HACCP system enables the control of all stages of the production of food products, not only end product control. There is room for improvement of the whole system in Serbia, and according to the SCC it is possible to establish complete traceability from the farm to the table, which is the objective of the whole concept of safe food production.

Implementing the HACCP system is necessary not only to promote business and export, but it is also a legal requirement in Serbia. How do you see the level of implementation of the system in our country, particularly in meat and dairy production and processing?

– The HACCP system is a very good and practical system, as it enables control of all stages of production of food products, not only end product control. When it was first applied as a legal requirement, we worked more on training and capacity building of all the actors in food production, so when talking about the implementation of the HACCP concept in practice, we could say that there is a lot of room for improvement of the system in general. The situation is a bit better in the field of meat and dairy processing, as they are particularly sensitive products.

What about meeting other standards that are required for export not only to the EU, but to other markets? Are we keeping up with competitors from other countries, and what issues are there?

– For export, it goes without saying that the HACCP system is fully implemented, but there are many other systems that multinationals require from their suppliers (mostly retailers) BRC, IFS, ISO 22000 and many others. In Serbia there are some excellent companies exporting in accordance with the standards and requirements of the EU market, and they are strong competitors to western companies.

For export, it goes without saying that the HACCP system is fully implemented, but there are many other systems that multinationals require from their suppliers (mostly retailers) BRC, IFS, ISO 22000 and many others. In Serbia there are some excellent companies exporting in accordance with the standards and requirements of the EU market, and they are strong competitors to western companies

Are small agricultural producers in Serbia aware that it is not possible to produce, for example meat products, in the way their fathers used to do, but that they have to meet certain standards, particularly in terms of EU accession and market access?

– Primary agricultural production takes place at about 350,000 registered farms, out of 650,000 in total in Serbia, a large number of registered meat processing facilities (about 1,000), along with sales on green markets. Production technology has progressed considerably and they surely cannot be working as they used to. We are facing substantial climate changes causing new animal diseases, so the risks are changing as well. That is why we have to work on informing producers about the benefits of added value for products, such as geographical indications, organic production and many other things.

How would you generally rate slaughterhouses and meat production plants in Serbia? Do hygiene and sanitation procedures and veterinary inspections meet all the necessary standards and requirements, at least for the largest manufacturers?

– Industrial facilities for meat processing are in good shape. The whole system is constantly being improved, particularly export facilities. The fact is that there are not enough inspectors for field operations, but in general the system is under control. However, particular attention should be paid to craft production and sales on green markets.

Is it possible to provide complete traceability and safety of foodstuffs of animal origin, and how? What is the European experience?

– It is possible to establish complete traceability – from the farm to the table – which is the objective of the whole concept of safe food production: primary producers, transport, processing and production of food, distribution, storage in retail facilities. I believe this is the moment to mention the quality of these products, the use of additives in technical processes and the quality of the raw materials (meat, milk).

Production technology has progressed considerably and they surely cannot be working as they used to. We are facing substantial climate changes causing new animal diseases, so the risks are changing as well. That is why we have to work on informing producers about the benefits of added value for products, such as geographical indications, organic production and many other things

Do you think that the applicable Food Safety Law and the corresponding rulebooks govern the quality and inspection of food of animal origin in Serbia in an appropriate way?

– The Food Safety Law is in the process of amendment so it will be improved. The division of competences between inspection bodies has also been established. We should think of the number of veterinary inspectors and the inspection of hospitality facilities in all stages of food preparation (where the raw materials are purchased, how they are stored, staff, storage of prepared food, etc.). Consumers could also contribute to improving the system by carefully considering where and what to buy.