Jul 14.2017 

Representatives of State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection Visit Switzerland for Study Trip

On June 18-24, the risk assessment team representatives visited Switzerland within the framework of Component 1. The main objectives of the trip were:
  • to meet stakeholders involved in the Swiss veterinary sector and understand their roles and responsibilities;
  • to study risk assessment procedures in food safety and animal health and the roles of various stakeholders involved in these procedures in Switzerland;
  • to improve skills and competencies of the participants in existing risk assessment methods and other relevant topics (e.g., risk-based surveillance);
  • to explore opportunities to apply the knowledge gained in Ukraine.

  • On the first day, the participants could visit Identitas AG, the data management company for identification and traceability of animals. They had an opportunity to see all capacities of the IT system. It was interesting to learn that the state offers subsidies to farmers for keeping an animal's movement history and imposes penalties on defaulters.

    They could learn more about the Swiss agriculture and food science education system at the School of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Sciences (HALF).

    On the second day of the study trip, the group visited the Veterinary Public Health Institute (VPHI), where they could see first-hand how the Institute carries out risk assessment and cooperates with the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office in Switzerland. They also could learn how the Swiss Association of Cheese Makers Fromarte operates and what role it plays in improving the quality of milk and ensuring proper milk processing techniques. In addition, the participants became familiar with the structure and operations of the Food Safety and Veterinary Office in the Canton of Zurich and talked and exchanged experiences with an inspector. At the meeting, they were presented with the risk-based classification of enterprises and risk-based inspection frequency used in the Canton of Zurich. The participants were interested to talk more about the inspection procedure and the openness of a market operator to cooperate with the inspector, since they both have the same goal of assuring food safety.

    The third day started with a visit to the Swissherdbook Breeding Association, where the participants had the opportunity to learn about the work and structure of the organization and understand the role of breeding associations in improving milk quality and animal health in Switzerland. It was very interesting to learn about Suisselab AG, the only raw milk analysis laboratory in Switzerland that carries out analysis of raw milk samples from each animal to monitor animal health and improve breeding. It also monitors the quality of raw milk from each farmer against three mandatory parameters: somatic cell count, bacteria insemination and residues of inhibitory substances.

    During the visit to the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO-BLV), the participants learned about the role, structure and activities of the state authority. The group was demonstrated how risks are assessed using the example of the Department of Early Disease Detection and Animal Health Surveillance. The representatives of the organization presented actual examples of early detection systems and risk-based animal health surveillance practices.

    On the fourth day, the participants could see the operations of TSM Ltd., namely the Database that is the only milk quality database in Switzerland where milk testing results of Suisselab AG are stored. The database is free to access for farmers, dairy processing enterprises and the regulatory authority. The participants spent the afternoon in the Veterinary Public Health Institute (VPHI) studying how to involve experts in risk assessment and expert elicitation method. The Delphi Technique was presented as one of possible practical techniques to be used.

    The study visit to Switzerland ended with the meeting at the Food Safety and Veterinary Office in the Canton of Aargau, where Sebastian Menzel, the Head of Primary Production and Animal Health Control Department, shared about the procedure and frequency of dairy farm inspections, the inspection checklist, the database for entering inspection findings and data management system, as well as the cooperation between the cantonal government and the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office. The inspector also took the group on a tour of an innovative and progressive dairy farm in the Canton of Aargau. Farmer Hansueli Muen showed around the dairy farm owned and operated by multiple generations of his family. The farmer demonstrated the best practices implemented at the farm, including milking robots, robotic feed distribution system, robotic feeding for calves, and other practices for the welfare of animals. It was also interesting to see the farm management software and milk testing control programme.

    The trip participants will prepare a report with best practices to be implemented in Ukraine and identify potential barriers to implementation.

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