Brussels, 16 October 2018. EU food law does not adequately protect European citizens from food scandals. This is criticized by the international consumer organization foodwatch in its new report "Lost in the Supermarket". The more than 50-page report gives an in-depth analysis of the food law of the European Union – and reveals fundamental weaknesses. For example, traceability along the food supply chain is not being consistently enforced and authorities are still not obliged to inform consumers quickly and comprehensively about health risks posed by foodstuffs. Furthermore, food companies can systematically mislead consumers – without breaking the law. These weak points must be urgently eliminated, demanded foodwatch. The European Commission's proposal for a reform of European food law is completely inadequate. On Tuesday evening, foodwatch Director Thilo Bode will discuss EU food law with Michael Scannell from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety and Michèle Rivasi, Member of the European Parliament for the Greens.
„EU food law must be fundamentally revised. Otherwise, the next food scandal is just a matter of time," said Thilo Bode, Director of foodwatch International. „The EU has failed to protect 500 million consumers in Europe from health risks and deception in the food market. Worse still, the European Union is doing nothing to improve the situation, but instead continues to serve the interests of big food corporations.”
The foodwatch report criticizes three points in particular:
Traceability: Although EU law clearly demands complete traceability in the food chain, this requirement has not yet been consistently enforced. For example, all major food scandals in recent years – including salmonella in baby milk from the French manufacturer Lactalis, eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil and horsemeat in beef lasagne products – have resulted in situations where millions of unsafe or fraudulent products were sold on the market before the companies and authorities were able to trace them down the supply chain and remove them from retail shelves.
Consumer information: foodwatch demands that EU food law clearly stipulate that authorities must inform the public quickly and comprehensively in the event of infringements. This must include the names of manufacturers and products, both in cases where there is a risk to health and in cases of fraud. Until now, consumers have often been warned either too late, inadequately or not at all, criticized foodwatch. In the case of fraud and deception, EU law does not impose any obligation at all on the authorities to inform the public.
Right of action: foodwatch demands that consumer associations be given the right to sue authorities that fail to fulfil their obligations under EU law. This is the only way to give these organizations the leverage they need for effectively defending consumer rights.
The EU's General Food Law (Regulation EC 178/2002) was adopted in 2001 in response to the BSE crisis ("mad cow disease”). It is now to be revised as part of the "REFIT process" (Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme) of the European Commission. In April 2018 the EU Commission presented a reform proposal to improve risk assessment. For example, studies on the safety of weed killers, such as glyphosate, are to be made more publicly available in the future. foodwatch criticized the proposal as insufficient.
Panel discussion: How can the European Union protect citizens from food scandals?
- Thilo Bode, founder and Executive Director of foodwatch international
- Michael Scannell, Director, Food Chain, Stakeholders and International Relations, European Commission, DG SANTE
- Ms Michèle Rivasi (MEP, Greens/FR).
When: 7.00 pm on the 16th of October
Where: "The Office", rue d'Arlon, 80, Brussels.
To register for the event, please visit:
Tel.: +49 (0) 30 / 24 04 76 290 and +49 (0) 1 74 / 3 75 16 89
foodwatch is a European non-profit consumer organisation that has been fighting for safe, healthy and affordable food for all people since 2002. foodwatch operates at the national and European levels and has offices in Germany, France and the Netherlands. More about foodwatch: www.foodwatch.org/en/about-foodwatch
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