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European Parliament Press Release, 16 June 2016
Draft plans to tighten up official controls from farm to fork were informally agreed by food safety MEPs and the Dutch Presidency of the Council on Wednesday. It aims to guarantee that the food consumers buy and eat in Europe is safe and wholesome, hence improving consumer’s health and preventing food crises.
The legislation aims to provide a comprehensive, integrated and more effective control system in the areas of food and feed safety rules, veterinary and plant health requirements, organic production and protected geographical indication rules.
“This legislation will bring clear, common general principles to all sectors of the food chain. It was long overdue, as the agri-food chain becomes ever more complex. Parliament’s team, Council and the Commission worked to make controls more efficient, less bureaucratic and cheaper for operators”, said Environment Committee chairman Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT).
“The aim is to protect consumers, with risk-based, more independent inspections, and to restore confidence after the recent scandals”, he added.
“This regulation is one of the most important pieces of food safety legislation of this legislature. It was a complex and challenging process and I am very happy that after 8 months of negotiations we came to a good agreement yesterday evening with the Dutch Presidency”, said rapporteur Karin Kadenbach (S&D, AT).
“After the horse meat scandal, consumers had serious questions about the traceability of food, and the integrity of the meat supply chain. The European Parliament strove to address these concerns and to end up with a text that allows competent authorities to effectively combat fraudulent practices” she added.
“To this end, risk-based and unannounced controls from farm to fork in all areas covered by the Regulation, including areas where fraudulent practices do not entail any risk for the health of the consumer (like in the organic sector), are paramount to restore the consumer's trust in the integrity of the food chain”.
“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. I trust that really deterrent penalties will be a key tool to combat fraud in every area” she added.
The agreement negotiated between MEPs and the Dutch Presidency of the Council provides for:
Recent food fraud scandals, such as the horsemeat scandal, have shown the need for more effective action on the part of enforcement authorities to protect consumers and honest operators alike, from the risks which may arise from breaches of the rules along the food chain.
The new rules will follow a risk-based approach, thus allowing competent authorities to focus their resources on the more relevant issues (all risks considered and not only risks for health).
In order to establish a harmonised general framework, the proposal for a regulation encompasses, in a single regulatory text, the official controls relating to all sectors of the agri-food chain (currently split among 16 or so regulations or directives). The proposal provides an in-depth review of existing provisions, aiming to eliminate any regulatory overlapping and taking a proportional and flexible approach so as to be able to react more promptly to emergency situations, by, for example, establishing swifter procedures for the accreditation of official laboratories.
The text will be put to a vote in the committee of permanent representatives (COREPER) on June 22, and by MEPs in the Food safety committee in June or September.
See also: 16 June 2016 OFFICIAL CONTROLS - Statement by Commissioner Andriukaitis on the political agreement reached on the EU proposal for revision of the provisions on official controls along the food chain