European meat plants posing 'avoidable risk' of disease
EWFC is calling for food safety regulations at slaughterhouses to be “re-evaluated in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic”
Consumers are being exposed to an “avoidable risk” of disease after a reduction of official controls in food inspections of pig and poultry carcasses across the EU, European meat inspectors have said. Diseased meat is being eaten by consumers in the UK and EU, including pus from abscesses and tuberculosis lesions from pigs’ heads, said the European Working Community for Food Inspection and Consumer Protection (EFWFC) this week. The EWFC represents EU meat inspectors in Europe.
In response to the claim, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the regulations for food safety had been developed to prevent meat that could be diseased or contaminated from reaching consumers. “If the FSA was aware of any breaches of these regulations it would be treated very seriously and we would take immediate action in response,” said a spokesperson.
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Food chain more and more of interest for criminals
Since 2013, EU Member States together with non EU countries Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, exchange information and cooperate in matters where they are confronted with violations of the food chain legislation of cross-border nature. It helps the EU Member States and other European countries to work in accordance with the rules laid down in the Official Controls Regulation.
The so-called EU Food Fraud Network (FFN) facilitates assisting and coordinating communication between competent authorities and transmitting and receiving requests for assistance in these matters. The liaisons bodies are required to exchange information necessary to enable the verification of compliance with EU agri-food chain legislation with their counterparts and, in certain cases, with the Commission, where the results of official controls require action in more than one country.
With the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1715 new rules for the functioning of the AAC system within the general information management system for official controls (IMSOC) are now in place. The AAC system will now be fully integrated into the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed by the end of 2020 and will also extends notifications to all areas of the Official Controls Regulation (e.g. animal health, plant health, animal welfare). This new system (iRasff) enables the efficient sharing of information and allows swift reaction when risks to public health and other non-compliances are detected in the food chain.
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Commission: No mandatory front-of-pack labelling in the Farm to Fork
Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides scaled back the ambition of the EU’s new food policy during a meeting with agriculture MEPs on Monday (11 May), revealing that it will not provide a compulsory EU-wide nutritional food label scheme.
“The Farm to Fork (F2F) will be promoting harmonised labelling, but will not be mandating the type of labelling,” she told the agriculture committee (COMAGRI). She did added though that the upcoming Commission report on front-of-pack nutrition labelling will provide evidence on the need for harmonisation in this area, as under the current EU rules it is only voluntary.
According to Kyriakides, the considerable interest in foodstuff nutrient profiles has delayed the Commission’s action, but in the context of the F2F, the EU executive will come forward with a concrete response.
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Online marketplaces sell unsafe and illegal items
Six consumer groups from the BEUC network tested 250 electrical goods, toys, cosmetics and other products bought from online marketplaces such as Amazon, AliExpress, eBay and Wish. They selected the products based on possible risks and found that 66% of them fail EU safety laws with possible consequences such as electric shock, fire or suffocation.
The products failed safety tests because of a diverse range of issues. These include smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that do not detect smoke or carbon monoxide, toys that contain chemical levels 200 times over the limit and a power bank that melts during testing. In some scenarios this could put consumers in a life-or-death situation.
Although online marketplaces often seem to take down products when informed, they too often reappear1. One of the major problems is that marketplaces do not consider themselves to be liable for the safety of products sold on their platforms and therefore do not seem to sufficiently control the trustworthiness of sellers upfront.
The tests were conducted through the International Consumer Research and Testing (ICRT) network, on behalf of a consortium led by Test Achats/Test Aankoop (Belgium) and which includes Altroconsumo (Italy), Consumentenbond (Netherlands), Forbrugerrådet Tænk (Denmark), Stiftung Warentest (Germany) and Which? (United Kingdom). DECO (Portugal) and OCU (Spain) are also publishing the results.
Products were first submitted to a visual inspection. For some this was enough to declare them unsafe. Take, for example, toys with loose components or hoodies for children with cords that are too long. Most products, such as a plastic doll with a sharp scent, warranted more research. This led products as diverse as jewellery, smoke alarms and Christmas tree lights to be tested in a lab.
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OVER €100 MILLION WORTH OF FAKE FOOD AND DRINKS SEIZED IN LATEST EUROPOL-INTERPOL OPERATION
More than €100 million worth of potentially dangerous food and drinks was seized in the latest Operation OPSON, coordinated by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordination Centre and INTERPOL. 672 individuals were arrested so far, with investigations ongoing in many countries.
Police, customs, national food regulatory authorities and private sector partners across 78 countries* took part in the five-month OPSON VIII operation which ran from December 2018 through April 2019.
In total, some 16 000 tonnes and 33 million litres of potentially dangerous fake food and drink was seized as a result of more than 67 000 checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.
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