Project progress 4

The “EU Food Safety Project” (EU FSP) is a complex project with 97 different activities and has a duration of 3 years (from 19 May 2021 to 18 May 2024). The EU FSP progress was strongly associated with the excellent cooperation established between the project experts, and the Turkish Cypriot community (TCc) counterparts.
Overall, comprehensive technical reports containing an assessment of the situation, regional and local environment, analyses, and recommendations were prepared to address key capacity aspects pertinent to food safety and animal disease crisis preparedness in the northern part of Cyprus:

  • human resources needed to implement food safety controls and related activities
  • knowledge of staff involved in controls
  • financial arrangements concerning the local bodies performing controls
  • risk-based data collection and data management related to the planning of controls
  • Food Business Operator (FBOs) situation, gaps, and action plans for improvement
  • adequacy and effectiveness of the Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans at commercial dairy and meat establishments
  • monitoring of zoonosis and residues
  • data gaps in the assessment of trends, sources, and agents of zoonosis
  • inter-sectorial platform on zoonosis, zoonotic agents, and anti-microbial resistance
  • disease notification and risk-assessment
  • animal disease computerized information system related to animal diseases
  • gaps in the traceability of food products; labelling and record-keeping procedures to ensure traceability
  • pilot “milk channeling system”
  • milk control and verification procedures
  • residue monitoring programme and implementing procedures
  • system for risk-based controls planning
  • upgrade of the documented procedures and instructions for controls
  • information management system for the data collected during controls
  • contingency plan, operational manual, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Avian Influenza
  • capacity building for laboratory staff on microbiological and residue methods
  • standard operating procedures in milk and food/feed laboratories
  • scope of laboratory accreditation
  • improving the laboratory information/data management systems
  • overview of the TCc control systems
  • capacity of milk, food, and feed laboratories to perform testing for control purposes
  • plan for control of Salmonella in poultry
  • programme for monitoring/surveillance of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE)
  • crisis preparedness plans and operational manuals
  • Foot-and-mouth disease status
  • general plan for food and feed crisis management.
Component I: Food safety

Under this component, 75 activities have been implemented.
The project activities have influenced the gradual increase of the stakeholders’ knowledge related to the food safety risks and consumer protection features, by promoting and improving the understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the FBOs, farmers, and veterinary experts.
Targeting the TCc FBOs, control bodies, chambers, and associations, the project team prepared training materials and delivered training events and workshops on the following topics:

  • hazards and risks along the production, processing, and distribution of food
  • food safety standards, good hygiene requirements, and HACCP principles for dairy & meat FBOs
  • preparation of individual HACCP plans
  • microbiological criteria for foodstuffs
  • planning, organization, and implementation of controls
  • sampling procedures and laboratory testing methods
  • food safety risk assessment and response to emergencies
  • feed hygiene requirements and feed risk assessment
  • food safety data management
  • financing the costs of controls along the food chain
  • implementation of good hygiene practices and HACCP-based own checks at the FBO level
  • microbiological and residue methods for laboratory staff
  • record keeping, labelling, traceability
  • use of veterinary medicines and residue monitoring
  • requirements for import and trade of animal products in the EU
  • In total, the EU FSP organized and delivered 107 educational events on EU food safety standards with a total of 1817 registered participants, of which the number of unique participants is 584. 7 Study Visits were organized and delivered. 16 Guidelines on key food safety and animal health topics were produced. All training materials are uploaded on the project web page at

The participants (FBOs, farmers, local body in charge of the ‘veterinary services’ (VD)/lab staff, and others) have been trained or involved in consultation sessions or received/participated in the on-the-job training and mentoring held under different activities. Training assessment indicated the increased knowledge of the participants.

The project’s efforts have boosted the awareness and understanding of farmers about the risks of the introduction of high-impact/exotic animal diseases and their responsibilities as primary producers in the agri-food chain.

Two reports on the assessment of the outcome of trainings/workshops, including feedback from the participants and progress in the implementation of the EU standards along the food chain as well indicated increased knowledge of the participants.

The EU FSP project contributed to the VD’s annual control plan based on the risk assessment approach. The project experts developed templates for categorization of FBOs and certification of PDO farms. These templates are adopted and used by the VD, including the reports from on-the-spot controls.

The capacity of the staff performing controls and related activities in the food safety area is also being strengthened. This is achieved through the technical assistance provided by the project experts, namely preparation of procedures, programs, and checklists.

The EU FSP has delivered 81 documents in total - SOPs, checklists, instructions, and document templates. These tools facilitate the daily routines of local bodies, FBOs, and farmers in monitoring and verifying adherence to the relevant food, feed, and animal health requirements.

Procedures for sample collection have been drafted and 21 samples are collected.
The project experts provided support for 46 on-the-job/hands-on capacity building/practical visits/exercises of VD staff to perform effective controls in establishments with different processing profiles. So far, more than 30 Turkish Cypriot FBOs in dairy, meat, and honey sectors have been assessed against the applicable hygiene requirements.

The EU FSP supported the ‘official control’ activities during the categorization of 22 FBOs. Reports from the visits in these categorized FBOs are documented by the VD and the EU FSP. The project experts further contributed by delivering a technical report with proposed procedures for adequate financing, procedures for for risk-based approach and a technical report for the risk assessment approach.

As a results of these interventions, the staff of the VD started implementing controls in line with the best practices. The ‘milk channeling’ system has been established and is functional.).
The EU FSP also provided on-site consultancy on the preparation/implementation of traceability, HACCP, and hygiene standards and drafting of action plans for upgrading:
  • 56 FBO staff trained in GHP/GMP and HACCP;
  • 60 FBOs included in the traceability exercises;
  • 33 FBOs received consultation for development/improvement/implementation of GMP and HACCP
  • more than 30 FBOs consulted for action plans for upgrading;
  • 3 FBOs certified by Bureau Veritas (BV);
In total, 60 farmers have been consulted in the PDO process:
  • 21 farms certified by the VD and 21 farms attested by Bureau Veritas (BV);
  • 24 trainings for lab staff on microbiological criteria and residue monitoring;
  • 6 procedures for new methods to be accredited are developed and provided to the VD, as well as relevant technical reports for assessment/identified gaps/recommendations for improvement.
Seven (7) monitoring programmes/plans for residues, pesticides and contaminants, veterinary medicinal products (VMP), Salmonella and TSE, and zoonosis and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are developed and submitted.
The web-based intersectoral platform for on occurrence of zoonosis, zoonotic agents and AMR is developed and operational.

Component II: Animal disease crisis preparedness

Under this component, 12 activities have been impemented.

Animal health is the basis of the agri-food chain and a key component of the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy. The preparedness to combat diseases is prescribed in the new EU legislation on animal health as an obligation of the Member States to ensure a fast response in the case of the occurrence of a disease that requires immediate eradication measures.

The EU FSP provided an assessment of the available contingency documents and the capacity of the VD to provide an immediate response in the event of diseases that require immediate intervention. The project experts have collaborated with the VD in preparing comprehensive contingency plans, operational manuals, and SOPs providing clear instructions on the steps to be followed for ensuring a comprehensive and timely response in case of a disease outbreak for several diseases:
  • Foot-an-mouth-disease(FMD,
  • Peste des petits ruminants (PPR),
  • Sheep Pox and Goat Pox (SPGP),
  • Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD),
  • Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI),
  • Newcastle Disease (ND),
  • African Swine Fever (ASF) and
  • Classical Swine Fever (CSF).
The project experts also supported the SOP upgrade for notification and reporting of diseases that has been drafted within the TAIEX instrument.

The TCc farmers and veterinary experts have been introduced to the good practices and standards on-farm hygiene, biosecurity, and prevention measures to be applied at animal holdings. The general level of awareness about the risk of introducing exotic animal diseases in the northern part of Cyprus has been raised. The understanding of farmers and veterinarians has been improved concerning the importance of prevention and risk reduction measures and the readiness to notify disease suspicion to the local bodies.

The TCc veterinary experts have received sufficient knowledge to increase their capacity for early detection, control, and elimination of high-impact exotic animal diseases, and to maintain a favorable animal health status.

Training materials were developed, and training events/workshops were delivered on the following topics:
  • EU legislation on listed animal diseases and crisis preparedness
  • animal disease emergencies, risks, surveillance, prevention
  • new animal health law in the EU
  • movement and traceability of animals
  • anti-microbial resistance
  • exotic animal diseases
  • farm hygiene and animal health threats
  • response to animal disease emergencies
Component III: Cross-cutting tasks

Under this component, 10 activities have been impemented.

The project experts have assessed the available system for early detection and disease notification and have provided scenarios and recommendations. The technical capacity of the relevant local body in terms of equipment and consumables has been analyzed, and advice has been provided.

The local staff engaged in the management of potential exotic animal disease outbreaks have been familiarised with good practices and specific disease risk management models. They were consulted in using the results of such assessments for prevention, surveillance, and contingency planning.

Generic risk assessment of the introduction of economically important animal diseases into the northern part of Cyprus, assessment of the Foot-and-Mouth Disease status (FMD) based on the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) questionnaire, and analysis of the current FMD risk assessment modalities in the northern part of Cyprus has also been carried out.

Recommendations for developing a computerized interactive information system for the effective collection and management of disease surveillance data and data on notifiable animal disease outbreaks, including data collection procedures and technical reports on contribution to networking of local laboratory experts with experts in EU reference laboratories have been proposed by the project experts.

Visibility and communications

The project team has regularly been communicating to the target audience the training events, workshops, and individual consultations provided to FBOs.

32 leaflets, 39 posters, and 16 guidelines addressing key food safety and animal disease topics are designed, disseminated, and uploaded on our online Food Safety Platform. The platform established and maintained by the project is available on the following link:

EU Food Safety Project

Social Media

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