On request of numerous members, in 1986 the SGF-controls, which had initially focussed on market monitoring activities, were supplemented by the Voluntary Control System (VCS). The aim was to ascertain irregularities, anomalies and adulterations of products already during the initial production phases of processing raw material and finished goods, and not to wait until these get to the market. Since 1986, the SGF-controls have therefore also included the manufacturers of raw materials and semi-finished products from companies all around the world.
The control system that permits the traceability of a juice „from the tree to the bottle“ is based on voluntary participants who open the doors of their semi- and finished goods facilities for the SGF auditors and allow samples to be taken of the semi- or finished goods from on-going production and from the warehouse for corresponding testing, together with hygiene audits of the plant facilities.
The „complete control chain“ from processing the fruit through to the finished product can provide verification of perfect quality within next-to-no time, even if natural changes resulting from origin, growth or variety characteristics cause deviations from normal expectations. At the same time it is easy to detect, localise and prove illicit product manipulation. Any infringements against the food regulations or against the rules of the system (VCS Implementing Provisions) trigger corrective action by the SGF with corresponding follow-up inspections.
The VCS intends to give its participants greater security in purchasing semi-finished products and to protect the branch altogether from dishonest competitors. In addition, the VCS should help to safeguard the constantly growing quality expectations of retailers and consumers. Participation in the control system is intended to help the company in fulfilling its statutory obligation to put only perfect goods into circulation.
But it is only possible to profit from the advantages of the system when it is supported by a qualified majority of reputable manufacturers who, above all, fulfil the corresponding requirements. Especially the cooperati on with companies having an exemplary quality management is therefore important as they form the quality standard of the whole branch.
Participation in the Voluntary Control System is no carte blanche. In any case, the participant still remains responsible for due diligence. His legal obligation to put only unobjectionable goods into circulation in Europe in accordance with the pertinent food regulations (e. g. EU Fruit Juice Directi ve 2001/112, national regulations) and European Code of Practice (AIJN/CoP) remains unaffected by participation in the VCS, particularly with regard to processing and marketing such goods.
The acknowledged product qualities offered by the fruit juice industry may have contributed to the increase in per capita consumption figures. This success should be secured and expanded.