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Europe Introduces Food Inspection Rules to Tackle Fraud

New rules on food safety and inspection have been adopted by the European Parliament to tackle fraudulent practices in the food industry.

Mar. 22, 2017
By Isabel Putinja

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The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment has adopted new rules on food safety and inspec­tion which aim to tackle fraud­u­lent prac­tices in the food indus­try across the EU.

Adopted at the March 15 ses­sion, the new mea­sures intro­duce tougher con­trols and food safety inspec­tions, as well as improved meth­ods for food trace­abil­ity.

I trust that really deter­rent penal­ties will be a key tool to com­bat fraud in every area.- Karin Kaden­bach, Aus­trian MEP

Cov­er­ing all stages of the agri-food chain, the rules will replace an ear­lier reg­u­la­tion on offi­cial con­trols that dates back to 2004. The new reg­u­la­tion has extended the scope to include con­trols on ani­mal feed, plant health, pes­ti­cide use, geo­graph­i­cal indi­ca­tion rules, ani­mal wel­fare, and organic prod­ucts. These rules are part of a frame­work to be adopted by all EU mem­ber coun­tries and will enter into force by the end of this month, with mem­ber coun­tries required to apply the new rules by 2020.

In a Euro­pean Par­lia­ment press release, Karin Kaden­bach, the Aus­trian MEP (Mem­ber of Euro­pean Par­lia­ment) respon­si­ble for the draft­ing of the leg­isla­tive pro­posal, revealed why the exist­ing rules needed to be revised: After the horse meat scan­dal, con­sumers had seri­ous ques­tions about the trace­abil­ity of food, and the integrity of the meat sup­ply chain,” she explained. The Euro­pean Par­lia­ment strove to address these con­cerns and to end up with a text that allows com­pe­tent author­i­ties to effec­tively com­bat fraud­u­lent prac­tices.”

The meth­ods used for sam­pling, analy­sis, test­ing, and diag­no­sis are also clar­i­fied under the new reg­u­la­tion, as well com­mon rules for import con­trols of ani­mals, and ani­mal and plant prod­ucts at EU bor­ders.

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In addi­tion to Europe’s horse meat scan­dal of 2013, there have been sev­eral cases of olive oil fraud uncov­ered in recent years in Italy, Spain, France, and Por­tu­gal. These have included fraud­u­lent activ­i­ties where low-qual­ity olive pomace oils have been sold and exported as extra vir­gin olive oil, or olives sourced from another coun­try were processed and sold as indige­nous olive oil.

The new EU rules just voted in also include pro­vi­sions allow­ing author­i­ties to react faster in cri­sis sit­u­a­tions, impose stricter enforce­ment mea­sures with stiff penal­ties for fraud­u­lent activ­i­ties or decep­tive prac­tices, and call for more con­trols in all sec­tors.

The reg­u­la­tion also intro­duces the require­ment for pro­ce­dures for receiv­ing infor­ma­tion about infringe­ments, as well as pro­tec­tion for whis­tle-blow­ers.

I am also proud that Par­lia­ment man­aged to have the chap­ter on enforce­ment strength­ened, in par­tic­u­lar regard­ing the penal­ties to be applied in the event of inten­tional vio­la­tions of the rules,” added Kaden­bach. I trust that really deter­rent penal­ties will be a key tool to com­bat fraud in every area.”

The aim of the newly adopted rules is not only to pre­vent fraud in the EU food indus­try but also to restore con­sumer con­fi­dence in the safety and authen­tic­ity of the EU’s food prod­ucts.



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