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EHCs: “a different world and a different mindset”

EU product certification was one of many Brexit-related topics on the OV Conference Online 2021 agenda

Official Vet (OV) Conference logo

A foreseeable but unprecedented increase in the volume and complexity of export health certificates (EHCs) for foods of animal origin destined for the European Union (EU), combined with rigorous scrutiny at border control posts, is making the role of the Official Veterinarian (OV) pivotal. 

So says Simon Hall, former veterinary director of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), who now works as an export OV. He discussed the latest developments in product certification during a lecture at this year’s Improve International OV Conference Online, pointing out that the changes are a result of Brexit, which has coincided with new legislation being implemented by the EU.

Simon Hall, former veterinary director of the APHA, who now works as an export OV

“The complexities of the new certification process mean that being an export OV is now a demanding but rewarding job. In-depth expertise, including an understanding of the preferences of each border control post, is needed. It’s easy to make a mistake which will almost certainly be picked up and cause trouble at the border. Take your time, check your work and ask a colleague to review difficult or unfamiliar certificates.”

He cited the issue of sealing trucks as a challenge. Previously, OVs were able to view products in a warehouse, check that the goods were properly identified and sign the certificate if all was in order. Under new EU regulations, OVs are expected to be at the warehouse to watch the product being loaded and apply an official seal. Getting an OV, truck, documentation and product together in the same place is far from easy and if one of the four is not there on time, consequential costs for the exporter can be significant.

This year’s OV Conference, the only UK event dedicated to the continuing professional development (CPD) needs of OVs, was organised by Improve International, in association with APHA and took place online between 28 and 30 September. It was addressed by a wide range of speakers, including the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss.

Missed the conference?

Recordings of the Conference presentations are available until 31 March 2022, enabling delegates to view on demand for six months. The platform will also remain open for new registrations throughout this time. Full details of the programme are available here.

In addition to watching the recordings, delegates can view questions from the presentations and continue discussions with colleagues and speakers on the discussion forum.

OVs should also be aware that they have continued access to the exports forum and the latest version of their OV courses on the Improve International OV website, should they wish to ask for guidance from colleagues or check back for recent updates.

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