The French National Veterinary and Phytosanitary Investigation Unit (BNEVP) is a department of the Directorate General for Food (DGAL), which oversees food safety, health and plant and animal production in conjunction with regional and departmental authorities. The BNEVP can intervene anywhere in the country and is a powerful force that can provide emergency support when needed by the DGAL. Its activities are mainly focused on fighting organized crime.
The BNEVP, which is under the direct authority of the DGAL Director General, is based in Rungis, France, just outside Paris, and has offices in Nantes, Toulouse, Dijon and Lyon. Its officers have the authority to intervene on a national scope in both legal and administrative matters, enabling them to quickly investigate anywhere in France when necessary.
The BNEVP’s national scope, its investigators’ authority to take action and the unit’s experience in understanding economic mechanisms and possible irregularities allows it to identify violators who have developed illegal business strategies and even criminal networks.
Three types of missions
- Fighting organized crime in health and plant protection products ;
- Carrying out national investigations ;
- Providing technical support for health inspection services.
The BNEVP employs around 20 officers. Depending on their specialization, investigators take on cases dealing with health and animal protection, veterinary medicinal products, pet identification, banned substances, food hygiene and plant protection (plant protection products trafficking, plant health).
Administrative investigations upon request of the ministry of Agriculture and the Directorate general for food
When the DGAL identifies a specific health risk or suspects potential fraud or violations related to business strategies, it may ask the BNEVP to carry out a national investigation within a specific scope.
In this past, this was the case with farm milk filtration, function creep of certain veterinary medicinal products (e.g., used as anabolic substances by bodybuilders), horse trafficking, food poisoning tied to the consumption of ground beef, etc.
For the past several years, the BNEVP has been overseeing an investigation following recurrent reports of fraud in parallel imports of plant protection products (nearly 250 distributors have been inspected to date). Each investigation requires inspections of numerous businesses to identify the fraud and determine its extent. When dealing with administrative police matters, BNEVP officers work in close collaboration with devolved services (DDCSPP and DRAAF).