The current structure of the Council is the following: Head of the Food Safety Council is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and its members are the Directors and their Deputies of the relevant Competent Authorities (Medical and Public Health Services, Health Services, State General Laboratory under the Ministry of Health and Veterinary Services, Department of Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment) and the following stakeholders: Competition and Consumer Protection Service, Municipalities Union and Cyprus Consumers Association.
Each service that participates in the Council has its own duties but the coordination between them is important for solving problems and supportive action.
Medical and Public Health Services
The Public Health Services (PHS) of the Department of Medical and Public Health Services of the Ministry of Health have as mission the undertaking of all necessary measures for the safeguarding and promotion of food hygiene and safety, and environmental health.
PHS is the Competent Authority for the implementation of the National and European Community law as concerns food safety and hygiene of food of non-animal origin, including risk management. They are also the competent authority for the control of foods of animal origin at the retail level, and the control of materials and articles intended to come into contact with food of any origin. Within this framework, the Public Health Services develop in cooperation with all other involved government authorities and stakeholders an integrated and uniform policy for the safeguarding of food safety, taking into consideration the new developments in food regulation as well as the continuous development and advances in the food industry.
As concerns the field of environmental health, PHS have the competence for:
· The monitoring and control of the quality of water for human consumption,
· The control of insects of medical importance,
· The inspection and check of public and private areas,
· Education of the public,
· Inspection and control of public swimming pools and bathing waters,
· Control of the production and distribution of detergents,
· Investigation of complaints for public nuisance,
· Control of smoking and tobacco products and application of the relative legislation.
Furthermore, PHS are involved with other Government Services in the prevention and investigation of outbreaks of communicable diseases including food poisoning. Within this context, epidemiological investigations are carried out so as to detect the source of infection and therefore check the spread of new outbreaks.
State General Laboratory
The State General Laboratory (SGL) is a department of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and is the Official Government Laboratory responsible for the surveillance and monitoring of foodstuffs, water, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other consumer products and for the examination of illegal drugs and other police exhibits from cases brought to court for justice. The Official Control is based on Annual or Multiannual Monitoring Control Plans and is carried out in cooperation with the relevant Competent Authorities.
The SGL is accredited according to the international standard ΕN ISO/IEC 17025:2005, in many fields of food safety and quality, environmental analysis, pharmaceuticals, drugs, cosmetics and toys, by the Cyprus Accreditation Body CYS-CYSAB (www.mcit.gov.cy/cys).
It comprises 21 specialised laboratories in the above fields of its remit. It is also the National Reference Laboratory for many fields of food safety such as Veterinary Drug Residues, Pesticides Residues, PCB´s and Dioxins, Environmental Contaminants and Natural Toxins, Food Microbiology, Genetically Modified Organisms and Food Contact Materials.
The SGL goes one step beyond the analysis evaluating the results and carrying out the necessary risk assessment, so as to confirm the degree of exposure of the general population & children and the related risks thereby providing scientifically based advice to Competent Authorities and FSC to enable risk management and effective measures to be taken. To reinforce its activities within risk assessment it has established a Risk Assessment Unit. An IT Unit is also established so as to assist the SGL recording and processing all analytical data using a LIMS system, to create laboratory reports and to send data to Government Departments, EFSA, the Commission and other official organizations.
In relation to its responsibilities, the SGL also participates in various Councils and Committees (National and EU). Furthermore the Director of SGL is an ex officio member of the EFSA Advisory Forum, the Head of the Risk Assessment Unit is the EFSA Focal Point, the Head of IT Unit is a member of EFSA Networking group on Pesticides Monitoring and a chemist is a member of the EFSA Advisory Forum Communication Working Group.
Department of Agriculture
The main mission of the Department of Agriculture is the development of the agricultural and livestock sector through the education and guidance of the farmers, the planning and the implementation of development programmes so as to become the technocratic vanguard of the rural population in Cyprus and for the practical implementation of the various policy measures, always considering the rural population’s interest.
The current programmes are not necessarily aiming to increase production but in parallel they aim to upgrade the quality and competitiveness of the agricultural and livestock products in the local and international market, and the more efficient use of the production resources and factors.
The cornerstone of the Department’s mission in order to achieve the afore-mentioned objective is the accurate, timely and objective information, the education and the training of our rural population on the latest technological innovation in the agricultural and livestock sector, as well as on various issues concerning the European Union “Aquis communautaire”.
Another objective of the Department of Agriculture in the new post-accession era is to implement the agricultural legislative and regulatory acquis, including risk management, which come under its competence, by meeting the relative obligations of our country towards the EU and ensuring at the same time the production of qualitatively upgraded and safe agricultural products and foodstuffs for the benefit of both producers and consumers.
The Veterinary Services (VS) are under the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment. Veterinary Services operate on a central and a district level. The central authority has two divisions, the Veterinary Public Health Division and Animal Health and Welfare Division.
VS are responsible for all kinds of food of animal origin except ice-cream and honey. The control of food of animal origin takes place from the primary production to the market, and in case of meat the controls are performed in market and butcheries too.
The Veterinary Public Health Division (VPHD), has the responsibility for the approval and control of establishments producing food of animal origin as well as the responsibility for the processing, handling, transporting, storing and placing on the market of food of animal origin (meat at the retail level too).
Additionally to these responsibilities, VPHD is also responsible for co-ordinating controls on food of animal origin entering the Cyprus market, through intra – community trade, including risk management.
VPHD develops and supervises implementations of the National Residues Monitoring Plan and is also the Contact Point in the Veterinary Services for the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).
Additionally, VPHD keeps the registration and controls of the establishments producing milk (bovine and ovine/caprine establishments –farms).
The Union of Cyprus Municipalities is the main association of Local Authorities in Cyprus. Its core functions are to contribute to the development of local government autonomy, as well as to act as spokesman of local government interests vis-a-vis the central government and other national institutions. It also takes an active stand in the relations between Cyprus and the European Union.
The Union of Cyprus Municipalities was established in 1981. Even though membership is voluntary, at present all municipalities (39), accounting for 65 per cent of the population of Cyprus, are represented.
Cyprus Consumers Association
The Cyprus Consumers Association is a non-political, independent, non-governmental Consumers' Organization. Since its inception in 1973, the Association plays an important role in supporting Cypriot consumers and ensuring that the consumer voice is heard at all levels of the system.The Cyprus Consumers Association was founded in 1973 and joined the Consumers' International as a full member in 1980 and BEUC in 2002.
Our mission, inter alia, is to safeguard the consumers' rights and educate and represent the Cyprus consumers in all local and international relevant bodies dealing with consumer matters.