Brief summary of the EWFC spring meeting in Bremen
The board of the EWFC convened over the second weekend of March in the fair city of Bremen, Germany.
The main topic for discussion was that of the forthcoming amendments to the proposals by the European Commission to change EU Regulation 882/2004, which governs official controls in the food and agriculture industries, and consolidation of the twelve points that the food controllers within EWFC had compiled for consideration at the previous meeting. This consolidated list is due to be discussed with MEP’s in Brussels in due course. The EFSA opinion and proposed changes to poultry meat inspection were also high on the agenda.
National reports from each member serve to facilitate discussion about practices in food control and meat inspection in respect to regulations, common problems encountered and incidents such as criminality or disease outbreaks and their management. The reports also facilitates the exchange of ideas.” Training events were identified for members consideration and the next congress to be run by EWFC was also discussed.
This will be in the autumn of 2016 and is likely to be held in Brussels. This is an important date for EWFC as it will also mark its 25th anniversary year.
The board also received a presentation from Mr. Jorg Pfundt of Dr. Becher on PURAVIA, which explained how they provide HACCP training and further support to food producing companies.
All in all, this was considered to be a good productive meeting and members left with a feeling that good work had been done and that the consumers throughout the EU continue to be well served by our organisation.
The next board meeting will be in the United Kingdom in September 2015.
Food safety MEPs call for country of origin labelling of meat in processed foods
Meat used as an ingredient in processed foods, such as lasagne, should be labelled by country of origin (COOL) as is already the case for bovine fresh meat, said Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee MEPs. They call on the European Commission, which published a report on the issue in late 2013, to come up with legislative proposals in order to rebuild consumer confidence in the wake of the horsemeat scandal and other food fraud cases.
The resolution, passed by 48 votes to 15 with 4 abstentions, urges the Commission to follow up its 2013 report with legislative proposals to make it mandatory to state the country of origin of meat used in processed foods, in order to ensure more transparency throughout the food chain and better inform European consumers.
MEPs reiterate their concern over the potential impact of food fraud on food safety, consumer confidence and health, the functioning of the food chain and farm produce prices. They emphasise the importance of rapidly restoring the confidence of European consumers.
MEPs point out that the European Commission’s own report acknowledges that more than 90% of consumer respondents consider it important that meat origin should be labelled on processed food products. This is one of the several factors that may influence consumer behaviour, MEPs say.
Impact on prices
MEPs also point out that estimates of the measure’s likely impact on prices, based on the findings of research done by the French consumer organisation “Que Choisir”, diverge widely from those in Commission’s report, and ask for a clearer picture. The evaluation should be carried out in conjunction with consumer organisations and would not delay legislative proposals, they add.
These proposals should enable European businesses to operate in an economically viable manner and in conditions compatible with the consumer’s purchasing power.
On 17 December 2013 the Commission submitted a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the likely consequences of making it mandatory to state the country of origin or place of provenance of meat used as an ingredient.
MEPs cite estimates that depending on the member state concerned, 30 to 50% of slaughtered meat is processed into meat ingredients for foodstuffs, mostly minced meat, meat preparations and meat products.
The resolution is to be discussed along with an oral question to the Commission, and put to a plenary session vote in February 2015.
Source: EU parliament
Professor Chris Elliott talking about Food Fraud
Food fraud is a process driven by economic issues it is important to realise it also has serious potential public health implications. It threatens food safety as well as being a swindle. As highlighted in the 2008 Chinese milk scandal in which six people died and hundreds of thousands were made ill by milk products adulterated with melamine. Although the intention of the criminal gang was to get a better price for the adulterated milk powder they had unwittingly created a very serious food safety incident with disastrous consequences.
Professor Chris Elliott gives his point of view