Commission Acts to Block Further Food Fraud11 June 2013
EU - Almost half of the food products stopped from entering the EU were stopped because of food safety issues.
And in the wake of the horse mat scandal and an incident where the Czech food safety authority reported 36 deaths because of people consuming methanol that was being passed off as drinkable spirit, new procedures for a rapid exchange of information across the EU are to be established.
A report from the European Commission from the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed showed that in 2012 the number of RASFF notifications fell by 3.9 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011 to 8,797cases.
Of those, 40 per cent or 3,516 incidents were original notifications and 5,281 were follow-up notifications.
These figures represent a 7.8 per cent fall decrease in original notifications and a 1.2 per cent decrease in follow-up notifications.
A total of 526 alert notifications reporting on serious risks found in products on the market, which marked decrease of 14 per cent compared to 2011.
When such a product is identified, the RASFF informs the third country in question, in order to take corrective actions and prevent a recurrence of the problem.
When a serious and persistent problem is detected, the Commission sends a letter to the national authorities of the third country concerned, so that they implement urgent corrective measures such as delisting establishments, blocking exports or intensifying controls.
Of the 3,516 original incidents reported by the RASFF in 2012, 332 concerned feed (9.4 per cent) and 299 were related to food contact materials (8.5 per cent).
These figures are in line with what was reported in 2011.
In all, 2,885 original notifications were related to food.
Since RASFF is primarily a platform to exchange information on food safety issues, both the Czech methanol and the horse meat scandal have raised a legitimate need to exchange information on cases of food fraud, which is an emerging phenomenon.
In the methanol adulteration case, TheCzech authority used the RASFF channel to swiftly inform and update its EU partners on its investigations and on the measures it had taken.
To address this, a European Commission's five point action plan aims to close the gaps identified in the wake of the horse meat scandal includes setting up a procedure for the rapid exchange of information and alerts in cases, which may constitute food fraud.
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