Self-checking is one of the cornerstones of the FASFC’s policy. However, not only the FASFC, but also the European regulations insist on operators' accountability in the food chain by virtue of the Food Law (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002). In Belgium, this Food Law was further developed into the Royal Decree of 14 november 2003.
Self-checking includes all measures taken by operators to ensure that the products in all stages of production, processing and distribution under their control :
- meet the legal requirements with regard to food safety;
- meet the legal requirements with regard to the quality of the products under the competence of the Agency;
- meet the requirements laid down with regard to traceability
and the supervision of effective compliance with these requirements. To ensure the safety of foodstuffs and feedingstuffs, the self-checking system has to be based on the HACCP principles (Hazard analysis and critical control points). In the primary production sector, self-checking pertains to compliance with hygiene requirements and keeping the necessary registers.
Applying a self-checking system is mandatory. Guides are made available to operators to help them set up their self-checking system. These guides are drawn up by the sector organizations and are approved by the FASFC following a thorough evaluation.
These guides are not only intended to be used by the operators. They also serve as a reference document for the certification bodies to conduct their audits in the framework of the validation of self-checking systems. Consequently, the FASFC has provided operators with the possibility to have their self-checking systems validated by an accredited independent certification body; which is a specific feature of the Belgian approach. This approach is only possible if the operator uses an approved sector guide. In any case, operators may choose to have their self-checking system validated by the FASFC.
Although validation of the self-checking system is voluntary, the FASFC in several ways encourages operators to have their self-checking system validated. Validated self-checking systems can for instance entitle operators to a discount on their annual contribution to the FASFC and a reduced inspection frequency.