Annual report 2022
The Federal Office of Consumer Health (BAVG) is the competent authority for import controls of foodstuffs, certain goods and animals from third countries. These controls are carried out at Austrian border inspection posts by border veterinarians and official control bodies in cooperation with the customs authorities. A total of 2,020 clearances were carried out in 2022 and cooperation with customs was concluded.
The BAVG also issues operational export licenses and issues official certificates for operational or private purposes when foodstuffs, certain goods or animals are exported to third countries. In 2022, 40 meat and 26 dairy establishments were audited (on-site audits) and 14 remote audits (online audits) were conducted during a focus campaign for Japan. In addition, 407 official certificates were issued.
Internet control is the third focus of the BAVG's official control activities. All Internet providers of goods whose company headquarters are located outside of Austria, in the European Single Market or in a third country, and who offer their goods for sale in Austria are subject to official control. Official control competence for online trading by Austrian providers lies with the competent provincial authority. During a first Europe-wide internet control action, illegal bamboo fiber products were discovered and taken off the market.
The BAVG is the competent authority for import controls of foodstuffs, certain goods and animals from third countries for the purposes of commercial law, as well as those of private individuals, if these are subject to the Foodstuffs and Consumer Protection Act. The aim of import controls is to ensure that foodstuffs and commodities from third countries comply with the conditions applicable to consignments within the EU. Harmonized EU-wide rules are to be applied for the control. The import controls are carried out by the border veterinarians and control bodies of the BAVG.
The Customs Office Austria (ZAÖ) and the BAVG have concluded a cooperation agreement in 2022 for close cooperation on a strategic level. The cooperation improves mutual support in operational enforcement and the exchange of know-how regarding food safety and the protection against animal diseases. Below is an overview of the various shipments (2020 clearances) in the individual categories in 2022.
The BAVG is the competent authority for issuing and maintaining company export licenses as well as for issuing official certificates for company or private purposes when foodstuffs, certain goods or animals are exported to third countries that are subject to the Foodstuffs and Consumer Protection Act. In addition to the European regulations, the import regulations of the destination country must also be complied with.
In order to ensure that the requirements of the respective third countries are complied with by Austrian food businesses with a valid export authorization, the control bodies of the BAVG carry out regular inspections at Austrian food businesses on the basis of a risk-based control plan. Depending on the requirements of the respective third country, comprehensive inspections of the production facilities, the processes and the procedures for ensuring food safety and quality, which exceed the respective requirements for intra-Community trade, take place, among other things. The inspections carried out serve to ensure that Austrian food businesses meet the requirements of the destination country.
In 2022, 40 on-site audits took place at meat establishments 26 at dairy establishments. In addition, 407 applications were submitted to the BAVG for the issuance of an official certificate or certification. In 87% (354 applications) of the cases, an official certificate was requested on the basis of a valid marketability certificate. These certificates were generally issued in English. In 13 % (53 applications) of the cases, certification was requested on the basis of a submitted original document. In particular, documents from official veterinarians were certified, which are required for the export of live animals, as well as marketability certificates.
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Within the scope of its responsibilities as an authority, the BAVG is responsible for monitoring the legal requirements of trade on the Internet in goods for everyday use (e.g. cosmetics, toys), which are subject to the Foodstuffs and Consumer Protection Act. This activity is carried out in a targeted manner on the basis of an official control structure and includes the official control of all providers of goods that are offered for sale on the Internet or through other distance selling channels from contracting states of the EU, EEA states or third countries in Austria. In contrast to the BAVG, the authority responsible for monitoring online trade by Austrian providers remains with the provincial authority (provincial governor).
In order to ensure a high level of consumer protection, Internet commerce is subject to legal requirements just like "regular" stationary commerce and is subject to risk-based official monitoring. In the reporting year 2022, illegal bamboo fiber products were discovered and removed from the market in a first Europe-wide internet control action (Bamboo-zling). The search was for plastic materials intended for contact with food and containing bamboo fibers, which is not permitted within the EU. With the cooperation of the BAVG, the EU-coordinated control action was successfully carried out in close cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (BMSGPK), the federal provinces and the Competence Center Food Chain of the AGES.