14 Oct 2013
New Commission proposals aim to simplify and better harmonise EU food safety rules and oversight.
Now Parliament is weighing in on the issue, which has grabbed headlines because past legislation has been too cumbersome...unable to react fast enough to damaging events like this year's horsemeat scandal in the UK, Ireland and France which later spread throughout the EU.
New reforms would greatly simplify food chain legislation and procedures across the EU. One additional benefit: greater funding of local inspections in the Member States to help catch violators before the damage is done to consumer health, supply, and reputation.
Among the main points include future unannounced inspections in Member States to strengthen anti-fraud measures.
Also faster upgrades of existing standards to meet the challenges of globalisation and climate change which have led to the creation of new pest species.
And financial compensation for hard-pressed farmers hit by new pest outbreaks would also be granted.
Vice Chair of Parliament`s Environment and Food Safety Committee is EPP Group member Christa Klass.
EPP Group MEP Christa Klass 00:20-00:39
We have a new view about the food supply chain and now it´s necessary to bring it up in a good way, to bring it up more for the consumer and also for the internal market. For the consumers it´s very important to have it without so much bureaucracy and more efficiency.
And although the EU already has one of the highest food safety standards in the world, much more can be done, according to EU Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner Tonio Borg.
EU Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner Tonio Borg 00:16 - 00:37
We are proposing legislation to make these controls work better co-ordinating better and this is why on 6th of May this proposed package related to the items at hand and official controls and food controls as well. But certainly I think what we produce inside the European Union is safe. We need to ensure also that what is imported is safe.
Two of the main threats to food safety are poorer quality products sold by vendors cutting corners to save money, and export certification problems among Member States and between the EU and third countries.
Michael Scannell is Director of the European Commission´s Food Veterinary Office.
Michael Scannell, Director, Food Veterinary Office, European Commission 02:48 - 03:06
All member states are faced with these kinds of difficulties. And our new controls regulation needs to find mechanisms to essentially promote the export interests of the EU, and true as Mr. Pirillo pointed out earlier highlight better the excellent safety record of European produce.
Commissioner Borg said the key to better EU enforcement of food safety is consolidation. The new proposal cuts 70 pieces of current legislation to just 5 in future.
Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg
01:40 - 01:59
It´s a consolidation of rules which already exists so it´s simpler to apply by those who have to enforce the law. So by a better regulation of this legislation, by consolidating a number of different laws on the food chain process, I think we are also improving the level of enforcement inside the European Union.
Also cited for greater enforcement is crop protection. Plants grown in the EU account for 205 billion Euros in turnover annually.
And all seeds including traditional and niche seeds would have to be registered under the proposed legislation. 60% of the world export value in seeds originates in the EU.
Officials insist that vigilance is the watchword against human error and greed when it comes to food supply and safety, and inspectors will play a more visible role.
Recession and budget cuts have hurt inspection efforts in the past, but officials now see the error in that.
The focus now is on faster reaction to stem the next e.coli or mad cow type outbreak, or catch the fraudster passing off ho
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