EC: Food/feed safety crisis management after fipronil outbreak

21-12-2018 | | |
Photo: Ronald Hissink
Photo: Ronald Hissink

Plans to improve crisis management in the fields of food and feed safety following last year’s fipronil egg crisis in the Low Countries will be adopted shortly.

The European Commission updated EU Farm Ministers in Brussels this week about the various follow-up actions taken at EU level in the aftermath of the fipronil incident.

The Commission also touched on its draft implementing decision updating the General Plan for crisis management in the field of food and feed safety.

The Plan is aimed at reinforcing cooperation and communication between the EU and member states and to ensure a harmonised approach during food incidents or crises.

It said the Plan should be adopted in the coming weeks following stakeholder discussions.

EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis told Agriculture Ministers that a large amount of action had taken place since a Ministerial Conference in September.

“The Commission has been developing the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed and the Administrative and Cooperation System, in line with conclusions from the Ministerial Conference.

“The creation of a single contact point for both systems in Member States has already been put in place. An implementing act will soon cover integration of the two IT systems; a first version of this system has recently been presented to Member States and received positive feedback.”

Mr Andriukaitis added that a new regulation on monitoring substances is also under discussion and is expected to be adopted in 2020.

“This will give Member States more flexibility to detect possible illegal substances and unacceptable residues earlier, and to adapt their monitoring programmes when necessary. It will also ensure that such breaches are dealt with in a consistent manner.”

Fact-finding missions and training of Member States authorities have also been tasking place to ensure that breaches are dealt with in a consistent manner.

“This will help improve preparedness and management, and strengthen investigation and reporting of food-borne outbreaks or contamination.

“An overview of the fact-finding missions to follow-up the Fipronil incident in four Member States will be published soon, but it confirms that the actions agreed at the Ministerial Conference adequately cover the challenges identified,” he added.

France presented a memorandum on the subject with new actions to “further strengthen trade between EU Member States, responsiveness and traceability.” The French have proposed the creation of a European investigation and control force to better combat fraud in the wake of the fipronil saga.

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Tony Mcdougal Freelance Journalist