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.
Ron Spellman, EWFC’s deputy secretary, said inspections should ensure that no carcass showing signs of disease entered the food chain, but that there had been an erosion of safety rules in the past decade.
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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.
Tampered expiry dates on cheese and chicken, controlled medicines added to drink products and meat stored in unsanitary conditions were some of the offenses discovered during the operation.
As in previous Opson operations, illicit alcohol was the most seized item, totaling over 33 000 metric tonnes, followed by cereals and grains (+/- 3 628 metric tonnes) and condiments (+/- 1 136 metric tonnes).
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EU food safety system overstretched, say EU Auditors
Although the EU’s system for protecting consumers from chemical hazards in food is soundly based and respected worldwide, it is currently overstretched, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. The European Commission and the Member States do not have the capacity to implement the system fully, the auditors say.
EU food safety policy aims to guarantee a high level of protection for human life and health, and to protect EU citizens from three types of hazards in food: physical, biological and chemical. This audit concentrated on chemical hazards in food.
The auditors found that the EU food safety model commands respect worldwide, but that it is currently overstretched. The legal framework governing chemicals in food, feed, and plants and live animals remains a work in progress, they say, and has not yet been implemented to the level envisaged in EU laws governing food production. In addition, the European Food Safety Authority, which provides scientific advice to inform European policymaking, suffers backlogs in its work in connection with chemical hazards. This affects the proper functioning of parts of the system and the sustainability of the model as a whole.
“Food safety is a high priority for the EU; it affects all citizens and is closely linked to trade”, said Janusz Wojciechowski, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “But the current EU system faces a number of inconsistencies and challenges.”
Some Member States’ controls cover certain chemicals more frequently than others, and their legal frameworks are so extensive that public authorities find it difficult to fulfil all their responsibilities. Checks by public bodies can only ever make up a small proportion of all checks carried out, say the auditors, and the EU model can best remain credible if public- and private-sector control systems complement each other. However, synergies between the two have only just started to be explored.
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