EU authorities are set to introduce a range of measures to tackle food fraud following the Fipronil scandal which affected hundreds of poultry farms in 26 EU states over the summer.
But it also emerged that they will not be penalising Belgium or the Netherlands over claims that the nations were tardy in reporting the contamination of eggs by the insecticide.
EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said both countries had submitted interim reports which highlight planned improvements around a better communications network to allow them to react faster to a similar crisis.
Speaking at the end of the high level meeting between the Commission and EU member states in Brussels on Tuesday, Mr Andriukaitis said 19 concrete measures had been agreed to help reinforce the EU’s action against food fraud.
• Better risk communications between Member States and the Commission enabling the public to have earlier and more coherent information;
• Bridging the gap between the use of Rapid Alert System for food and feed (RASFF) and the Administrative and Cooperation system (AAC);
• Consider the establishment of a food safety officer in each member state to make sure information flows as fast and as efficiently as possible;
• A range of capacity building activities including training and regular crisis exercises.
Mr Andriukaitis said he was pleased at the high level of participation, which showed the importance of food safety and tackling food fraud in the EU.
“I wanted this meeting to happen for at least a few important reasons. I wanted to make sure that we take stock and reflect on the lessons learnt.
“And I also wanted to enhance communication between Member States and look for a more coherent and coordinated approach for the future in order to prevent such incidents from happening.
“Indeed, food fraud cases as this one damage public trust in the food safety and can eventually lead to destruction of trust in particular the food industry. Misdoings and fraudulent practices of a few should not have such devastating effects,” he said.
The measures will be presented to EU Ministers at the next Agrifish Council, October 9-10.