Analysis on 15 Years of EU General Food Law: Why it does not meet the needs of Europe’s consumers – and why the next food scandal is inevitable

Berlin, 23 November 2017. There are enormous gaps between the aspiration and reality of European food law. The guiding principles of the General Food Law Regulation have yet to be adequately implemented, criticised the international consumer organisation foodwatch. The precautionary principle, for example, as the main pillar of European consumers’ health protection is hardly ever applied in practice. And inadequate public disclosure obligations for public authorities and companies open the doors for future food scandals.

"Fifteen years after the European General Food Law entered into force, daily deception in the supermarket, food scandals like horsemeat lasagne and Fipronil eggs and health risks associated with the use of pesticides like glyphosate have become an unfortunate reality," says Thilo Bode, Executive Director of foodwatch International. "The food law’s implementation to date has been too strongly influenced by the financial interests of the food industry. This must stop! It is high time that the EU upholds the consumer’s right to be protected against health hazards and fraudulent practices."

European Commission plans to hold consultations with high ranking experts in Brussels on setting the course for EU General Food Law (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002) on 27 November 2017.

foodwatch International has identified three key shortcomings in the implementation and development of EU food legislation that must be addressed. Firstly, the unambiguous requirements laid down in the General Food Law, including the precautionary principle and the guarantee of traceability, must be strictly enforced. Secondly, the existing weaknesses, such as the completely inadequate public disclosure obligations for public authorities and companies, must be remedied.

foodwatch International criticises the fact that the concept of prevention enshrined in the General Food Law is not reflected in the respective EU secondary legislation nor in the enforcement of the requirements.