Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Food scandals under control

On the 6th of May 2013 the European Commission announced its plan to change some of the existing measures with respect to health and safety standards in the agri-food chain. This review has been fuelled by the recent food scandals, e.g., the horse-meat scandal. As a result of revealed threats to consumer health and safety and obvious gaps in inspecting food products, it was obvious that the new system should be enforced. The new measures would give more power to the authorities allowing them to conduct more controls, inspections and tests by establishing new rules on carrying out official controls. 

BEUC published its assessment of the proposed rules on the 2nd of July. It demands from the European Commission to ascertain that the new rules would guarantee the independence of the control authorities (p. 3), as well as to make sure that the standard for inspection is unannounced inspections (p. 4) and that the inspection results are published (p. 5). The food business operators should, therefore, be ready for an inspection at any time. Among other requests, one stands out clearly: to secure the transparency of food business operators' brokers and suppliers. One of the problems of the horse meat scandal was that it was really difficult to establish a contractual chain in certain cases which would allow to find a culprit who changed the labels. If there is a clear registration system for brokers, it would help competent authorities to trace any potential food scare to its source. (p.5-6)

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