One of the aims of the new law governing food (equivalent to EC hygiene law) is to safeguard the quality and hygiene of milk and dairy products. The Federal agencies concerned have set up the "Milk Enforcement Coordination Unit" at the Federal Veterinary Office (BVET) for the enforcement of food law. Since enforcement structures were reorganised in 2007, inspections have been carried out by the cantonal enforcement agencies. Milk quality control was put out to tender and outsourced to professional laboratories.
The project provides basic principles and specialist implementation support for federal and cantonal agencies. Important contributions are made to the enforcement of the milk section of food law, and to formulating interpretive aids, HACCP, National Reference Laboratory and risk assessment.
Food-induced illnesses in humans occur throughout the world, the principle causes being microbial. The project covers food safety issues in the animal production chain. Health risks can be identified on a risk analysis basis, quantified and reduced by taking the appropriate action. The scientific basis for risk analysis is risk assessment. This makes it possible to state the probability of occurrence and the degree to which a specific pathogen or chemical contamination in a foodstuff could damage health, to appraise same and to initiate specific precautionary measures. Data unavailable for risk assessment and associated problems are concluded from targeted studies. In addition, a central point of contact is being set up to cover the safety aspects of foods of animal origin and animal feedstuffs. Relevant issues are covered jointly with technical specialists, the results channelled back to the field by knowledge transfer.
Under the Milk Quality Ordinance the Federal Government has to maintain a National Reference Laboratory (NRL) at Agroscope's Institute for Food Sciences IFS for analytical research into milk and dairy products. The NRL is an integral part of the EU Reference Laboratories Network. Recognition in dairy industry practice is based on research work and the demand-oriented provision of reference analysis, proficiency testing and reference material. This guarantees the quality of milk and dairy products on the analytical and technical level.
- To make scientifically documented contributions to the safety of foods of animal origin.
- To perform the statutory duties prescribed, and effectively support the agencies empowered to enforce food law.
- For dairy industry laboratories and those responsible for food safety in Switzerland and the alpine area to profit from the expertise, advanced training and national/ international networking of those collaborating on the project.
- To provide expert back-up for dairy industry laboratories by coordinating between inspection agencies and the EU Reference Laboratory and by supplying reference materials, conducting proficiency testing and running training courses.