'From farm to fork' checks adopted
MEPs tighten the food safety rules to prevent future scandals
Maria Koleva, Strasbourg
17 March, 2017
To ensure that in Europe there will never be again such scandals as that of the packed horsemeat in lasagna and other cases of food fraud, MEPs tightened up the rules on food safety and consumer protection. At the plenary in Strasbourg on 15 March, they voted on new EU regulation to prevent, eliminate or reduce the level of health risks to humans, animals and plants, which may arise along the entire food chain, urging for steadfast food checks from farm to fork. The regulation ensures a more effective control system concerning food and feed safety rules, veterinary and plant health requirements, organic production and protected geographical indication rules.
The new rules are already informally agreed by MEPs and the Council and provide for controls on food, feed, plant health, pesticides, animal welfare, geographical indications, and organic farming. Special focus is put on unannounced, risk-based controls in all sectors and better enforcement against fraudulent or deceptive practice but also on import conditions for animals and products imported from third countries.
Mentioning that the horse meat scandal has shown the need for better consumer protection, Austrian S&D MEP Karin Kadenbach, rapporteur on the topic, pointed out that consumers have the right to know what they eat and honest food producers have the right to be protected from breaches along the chain. As she stated, the new EU rules will improve food traceability, combat fraud and restore consumer trust in the whole food chain. She stressed that the trilogue negotiations between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission took 18 months, as a number of controversial issues had to be solved. But it was worthwhile as the outcome is good for consumers, operators and the competent authorities, she said adding that the parliamentarians have improved food security and cut red tape. The rapporteur made it clear that the harmonised framework will replace seven directives and two regulations, clarifying who is responsible for what, when and where. She is convinced that those areas that had been touched by fraud and risks will be more strictly controlled in the future.
Pilar Ayuso, Spanish EPP MEP, commented that the EU has the strictest legislation in the world in terms of food safety, traceability, animal health and animal welfare, but its enforcement must be monitored. We need greater controls and a regime of more effective sanctions to deter law-breakers, she urged.
From now on, a single, integrated framework will apply to all official controls along the entire food chain, at all stages of production, processing and distribution, Miriam Dalli, Maltese S&D MEP, underlined.