operating rules FOR CONFORMITY CHECKS OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES COVERED BY A STANDARD
I. operating rules CONCERNING CONFORMITY CHECKS
1. The purpose of conformity checks is to ascertain that the quality and classification of the produce traded are in conformity with the relevant standards. The standards applied under the Scheme are defined in Annex I. However, these operating rules are appropriate to check the conformity with any standard approved by UNECE, Codex Alimentarius or equivalent standards.
2. The aim of this document is to define an appropriate control method to assess the conformity of produce (fresh, dry and dried fruit and vegetables) against standards. These methods set a minimum level whenever produce fails to meet the benchmark requirements of the standard. More extensive methods may be applied as long as will be based at least on the level of inspection described below.
3. Conformity checks are to be carried out according to the methods set out in Section II below by the authorised control service to issue the conformity certificate comparable to the model set out in Appendix I to this Annex. Its use is described in the explanatory note appearing in Appendix II to this Annex.
4. The purpose of the conformity certificate is to attest that the authorised control service has verified, according to the methods set out hereafter in Section II of this Annex that the consignment in question conforms to the standard at the time of inspection.
5. For countries participating under the "Scheme", the application of these operating rules is mandatory at export stage and for standards applied under the "Scheme". The authorised control service of the exporting country is responsible to the corresponding service of the importing country for the statements attesting conformity in the conformity certificate. In the context of the Scheme, the trader refers to the exporter.
II. METHODS OF CONFORMITY CHECKS
1.1 Authorised control service
The authorised control service has been formally approved or recognized by the government or a government agency having jurisdiction. The authorised control service should have clearly defined responsibilities and authority.
The inspector is the person entrusted by the authorised control service who has appropriate and regular training enabling him/her to undertake conformity checks.
The signatory is the person entitled by the authorised control service for carrying out the inspection and for signing the conformity certificates.
Trader means any natural or legal person who holds fruit and vegetables subject to standards for itself or on behalf of a third party with a view to displaying or offering them for sale, selling them, or marketing them in any other manner. Such activities shall cover distance selling whether by internet or otherwise. The trader may be represented for the conformity checks by an appointed staff member (representative/person of the company) or by an agent.
The standard defines the characteristics for produce (fresh, dry and dried fruit and vegetables) intended to be sold or delivered in its original condition to the consumer including packaging, marking and labelling requirements.
1.6 Conformity check
The conformity check is the examination carried out by an inspector to verify that the produce conforms to the standard.
This conformity check includes:
An identity and documentary inspection: an inspection of the documents or certificates accompanying the lot and an inspection of the goods and the particulars in these documents, to check that they match.
A physical inspection, by means of sampling of the goods in the lot to ensure that it satisfies all the conditions laid down by the standard, including the provisions on the presentation and marking of packages and packaging.
The consignment is the quantity of produce to be sold by a given trader found at the time of inspection and defined by a document. The consignment may consist of one or several types and lots of produce and may be split on several means of transport.
The lot is the quantity of produce which, at the time of inspection at one place, has similar characteristics with regard to:
Packer, dispatcher and/or shipper or - if available - producer;
Country of origin;
Nature of produce;
Class of produce;
Size (if the produce is graded according to size);
Variety or commercial type (according to the relevant provisions of the standard);
Date of picking or packaging, if available;
Lot number (if available)
Type of packaging and presentation.
However, if during the conformity check of consignments, it is difficult to distinguish between different lots and/or presentation of individual lots is not possible, all lots of a specific consignment may be treated as one lot if they are similar in regard to type of produce, packer/dispatcher/shipper/producer, country of origin, class and variety or commercial type, if this is provided for in the standard.
Packages are individually packaged part of a lot, including contents. The packaging is conceived so as to facilitate handling and transport of a number of sales packages or of produce loose or arranged, in order to prevent damage by physical handling and transport. The package may constitute a sales package. Road, rail, ship and air containers are not considered as packages.
1.10 Sales package
Sales packages are individually packaged part of a lot, including contents. The packaging of sales packages is conceived so as to constitute a sales unit to the final user or consumer at the point of purchase.
Pre-packages are a type of sales packages where the packaging encloses the foodstuff completely or only partially, but in such a way that the contents cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging.
The unit is a single produce, bunch, bundle, or truss.
1.13 Primary sample
The primary sample is the package taken at random from the lot or, in the case of produce presented in bulk (direct loading into a transport vehicle or compartment thereof), a quantity taken at random from a point in the lot.
1.14 Bulk sample
The bulk sample is a number of primary samples supposed to be representative for the lot and whose quantity should be sufficient to allow the assessment of the lot with regard to all criteria of the relevant standard.
1.15 Secondary sample
The secondary sample is a quantity of units or sales packages taken at random from the primary sample.
1.16 Composite sample
The composite sample is the mix of all the secondary samples from the primary samples constituting the bulk sample.
1.17 Reduced sample
The reduced samples is the quantity of produce taken at random from the bulk or composite sample whose size is restricted to the minimum quantity necessary but sufficient to allow the assessment of certain individual criteria.
Several reduced samples may be taken from a bulk or composite sample in order to check the conformity of the lot against different criteria.
1.18 Risk analysis
The risk analysis is the evaluation of the likelihood and severity of adverse effects on the quality of fruit and vegetables. It determines the quantitative and qualitative value of risk related to a concrete situation and a recognized hazard, i.e. the non-conformity of fruit and vegetables with the relevant standard.
2. Implementation of conformity check
The trader applying for conformity certificate has to make sure that the authorised control service is informed whenever a consignment is to be exported or imported.
2.2 Decision on conformity checks
The authorised control service may decide to inspect the produce:
Selectively, based on a risk analysis, and with appropriate frequency, so as to ensure appropriate compliance with the standard.
Where inspection is based on risk analysis, the rules laid down to this end in the OECD Guidelines on Risk Analysis [AGR/CA/FVS(2006)1] should be used.
2.3 Place of control
A conformity check may be carried out during the packing operation at the point of dispatch, during transport, at the point of destination.
In cases where the authorised control service does not carry out the conformity check in their own premises, the trader shall provide facilities enabling the conduct of a conformity check.
2.4 Inspector's equipment
With respect to the range of produce covered by conformity checks, the inspector must be provided with adequate equipment.
2.5 Presentation of produce
The presentation of the lot is made by the trader as well as the supply of all information deemed necessary for the identification of the consignment or lot and for the inspection.
2.6 Identity check
The identification of lots shall be carried out on the basis of their marking or other criteria. In the case of consignments which are made up of several lots it is necessary for the inspector to get a general impression of the consignment with the aid of accompanying documents or declarations concerning the consignments. The inspector shall then determine how far the lots presented comply with the information in these documents.
If the produce is to be, or has been, loaded onto a means of transport, the registration number of the latter shall also be used for identification of the consignment.
A conformity check shall be made by assessing bulk or composite samples. It is based on the principle of presumption that the quality of the randomly taken samples is representative of the quality of the lot.
The inspector selects at random the primary samples to be inspected. If secondary or reduced samples are required, these shall be identified at random by the inspector from the bulk sample.
Care should be taken to ensure that the removal of samples does not adversely affect the quality of the produce.
Damaged packages should not be used as part of the bulk sample. They should be set aside and may, if necessary, be subject to a separate examination and report.
2.7.1 Sample size in case of conformity
The inspector shall determine the size of the bulk sample in such a way as to be able to assess the lot.
2.7.2 Sample size in case of non-conformity
The bulk sample shall comprise the following minimum quantities whenever a lot is declared unsatisfactory:
Number of packages in the lot
Number of packages (primary samples) to be taken to constitute the bulk sample
up to 100
101 to 300
301 to 500
501 to 1000
Produce in bulk
(direct loading into a transport vehicle or compartment thereof)
Quantity of lot
Quantity to be taken 1)
to constitute the bulk sample
up to 1000 kg
1001 to 5000 kg
over 5000 kg
75 units or 15 kg
105 units or 21 kg
minimum 150 units or 30 kg
1) In the case of bulky produce (over 1 kg per unit), the bulk sample shall be made up of at least 20 units.
In case the lot size is equal to or below the minimum bulk sample to be taken the whole lot must be inspected.
126.96.36.199 Size of the secondary sample
In the case of packed produce, secondary samples have to be taken from each primary sample to constitute the composite sample. The minimum size of the secondary sample taken from each primary sample shall be:
a) In case of fresh fruit and vegetables:
15 units but at least 3 kg in case the net weight of the primary sample is equal to or less than 25 kg;
50 units but at least 10 kg in case the net weight of the primary sample is more than 25 kg.
However, in case of packages containing sales packages, at least 5 sales packages have to be taken as secondary sample from each primary sample.
In case the primary sample contains a number of units or sales packages equal to or below the minimum number defined as secondary sample, the whole primary sample has to be checked.
b) In case of dry and dried produce:
300 g to 1 kilogram, in case the produce is packed loose in the package or 1 or more sales packages but at least 300 g in case of produce packed in packages containing sales packages.
188.8.131.52 Size of the composite sample
When secondary samples have been taken, the composite sample shall be
a) in case of fresh fruit and vegetables: the sum of all secondary samples;
b) in case of dry and dried produce: at least 3 kg. Produce in the composite sample must be evenly mixed.
184.108.40.206 Size of the reduced sample
The reduced sample is taken from the bulk and/or composite sample and must comprise at least:
a) in case of fresh fruit and vegetables:
20 units; if in these 20 units at least 1 unit shows internal defects, the reduced sample must be increased to 100 units.
In case the composite sample contains a number of units below the minimum number defined as reduced sample, additional units have to be taken at random from the bulk sample.
b) in case of dry and dried produce:
100 nuts in the case of nuts in shell
300 g in the case of small dry or dried produce (i.e. 100 g include more than 100 units).
2.8 Physical check
2.8.1 Verification of packaging and presentation
The packaging, including the material used within the package, shall be checked for suitability and cleanliness according to the provisions of the relevant standard. This shall be done on the basis of primary samples, in case of packed produce and in all other cases on the basis of the lot or transport vehicle. If only certain types of packaging or presentation are permitted, the inspector checks whether these are being used. Moreover, this check is used to get a general impression of the lot.
2.8.2 Verification of marking
The marking shall be checked for correctness, completeness and readability according to the provisions of the standard. This shall be done on the basis of primary samples, in case of packed produce and in all other cases on the basis of the lot or transport vehicle. In case of sales packages presented in packages, it is checked whether the possible marking of the sales packages and that of the packages is not misleading.
Unless legal provisions so specify, fruit and vegetables individually wrapped in plastic are not considered as pre-packed foodstuff and do not necessarily need to be marked in accordance with the standard. In such cases, the plastic wrapping can be considered a simple protection for fragile produce.
2.8.3 Verification of characteristics of the produce
The general appearance of the produce is checked based on the bulk sample, this means checking the top layer(s), emptying the package(s) or transport vehicle partly to check lower layers including, where possible, the ground layer.
The characteristics of the produce shall be checked for conformity with the minimum requirements, classification, sizing, and uniformity according to the provisions of the standard.
This shall be done on the basis of either the bulk or the composite sample.
However, the conformity check based on the bulk sample is obligatory in case of packages of a net weight of 3 kg or less or in case of packages containing less than 15 units. When using the bulk sample as a basis, the produce has to be removed entirely from its packaging.
Whatever the sampling method is applied, sales packages have to be opened and emptied.
The explanatory brochures published by the OECD Scheme for the Application of International Standards for Fruit and Vegetables and by the UNECE are taken into account when assessing the produce.
If external characteristics and/or the season give rise to a certain risk for internal defects or insufficient maturity and ripeness, which means that the inspection method would destroy the produce, this inspection is carried out on the basis of the reduced sample.
The criteria on the degree of development and/or ripeness are checked using the instruments and methods laid down to this end in the relevant standard or in accordance with OECD Guidelines on Objective Tests to Determine Quality of Fruit and Vegetables and Dry and Dried Produce.
For dry and dried produce, the criteria on the degree of development and/or moisture content can be checked using the instruments and methods laid down to this end in the standard.
If during inspection it becomes obvious that the lot is heterogeneous, the lot should be separated – if possible – in homogenous lots. If this is not possible, the report of non-conformity should mention the heterogeneous character of the lot.
2.8.4 Determination of inspection result
The result of inspection is representative for the lot, as all samples (primary, secondary and reduced sample) are taken at random.
In the case where defects are detected, the inspector shall ascertain the respective percentage of the produce not in conformity with the standard by number or weight – as specified in the standard.
If the percentage of defects found is close to the tolerance another bulk, composite or reduced sample must be checked. The overall result is reported as an average of the two checks.
2.9 Report of control results
According to the respective legal provisions of the individual countries and depending on the results of control, a report on the findings may be made in the form of a conformity certificate or a report of non-conformity.
2.9.1 Conformity certificate
The authorised control service may issue a Certificate of Conformity as set out in Appendix I, if the produce is in conformity with the relevant standard.
Several lots may be listed on the same conformity certificate if these are uniform with respect to the key criteria such as packer/dispatcher/shipper, receiver and/or means of transport.
2.9.2 Report of non-conformity
If defects are found leading to non-conformity, the trader must be informed about these defects and the percentage found as well as the reasons of complaint. This information must be made according to the legal provisions of the individual countries. If the compliance of produce with the standard is possible by a change in marking or by re-grading, the trader must be informed.
A lot for which a finding of non-conformity has been issued may not be moved without the authorisation of the authorised control service issuing that non-conformity report. This authorisation can be subject to the conditions laid down by the authorised control service.
The trader may decide to bring all or part of the lot into conformity. A lot brought into conformity may not be marketed before the authorised control service has ensured by all appropriate means that the lot has actually been brought into conformity. The inspector may issue a conformity certificate for the lot or part thereof only once the lot has been brought into conformity.
2.12 Record of control results
The authorised control service shall develop and maintain a system of recording the inspection results.
2.13 Notification of non-conformity
In case of defects or deterioration which could have been detected at the time of packaging, the authorised control service competent at export/dispatch has to be informed. To facilitate this notification, the notification form and codes laid down to this end in the OECD Document to Facilitate the Exchange of Information between National Control Services of Exporting and Importing Countries on Non-Conformity of Fruit and Vegetables should be used.
2.14 Decline in value by conformity checks
After the conformity check, the bulk/composite sample is put at the disposal of the trader.
Unless legal provisions so specify, the authorised control service is not bound to hand back the elements of the bulk/composite sample destroyed during the conformity check.
Unless legal provisions so specify, no compensation can be claimed from the authorised control service if the commercial value of the produce has suffered a loss.
It is recommended that the authorised control service develops and cultivates regular communication to the industry as well as to other authorised control services.