In the wake of the horsemeat scandal, the European Commission has released a package of measures to strengthen food standards
Brussels – New measures adopted in Europe this month will ask member states to fully integrate anti-food fraud checks and ensure that financial penalties for food fraud are high enough to dissuade others from attempting it.
The European Commission launched the news measures in early May.
The aim, says the commission, is to strengthen the agri-food chain in Europe. And to simplify legislation that had 70 pieces to it. With the new measures it now has five pieces of legislation.
The measures will also reduce red tape on processes and procedures for farmers, breeders and food business operators (producers, processors and distributors).
In Europe, the agri-food industry is the second largest economic sector, employing more than 48 million people.
The commission says businesses will benefit from simpler, science and risk-based rules in terms of reduced administrative burden, more efficient processes and measures to finance and strengthen the control and eradication of animal diseases and plant pests.
Consumers will benefit from safer products and a more effective and more transparent system of controls along the chain.
The main elements of the package include office controls, animal health, plant health, and plant reproductive material (including seeds).
Under animal health, the new measures include:
1. The package will introduce a single piece of legislation to regulate animal health in the EU based on the principle that “prevention is better than cure.”
2. It aims to improve standards and to provide a common system to better detect and control disease and tackle health, food and feed safety risks in a coordinated way.
3. This enhanced system, allied with better rules on identification and registration, will give those working to protect our food chain, such as farmers and veterinarians, the capability to react quickly and to limit spread of disease and minimise its impact on livestock, and on consumers.
4. Furthermore, it introduces categorization/prioritisation of diseases, which require intervention at EU level. As such, it enables a more risk based approach and appropriate use of resources.
5. Sufficient flexibility is provided to adjust the animal health measures to different sizes and types of establishments (e.g., small and medium enterprises, hobby holding, etc.) to different local circumstances in particular with respect to registration and approval requirements for establishments and the keeping animals and products.
6. On a broader scale the law needs to be flexible and robust enough to provide for the effective response of the whole EU in the event of important climate changes thus giving us the tools to deal with new and unknown emerging risks so that we can adjust quickly to new scientific developments and international standards.