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Written QA to EU Commission – China’s dubious food imports

30 May 2014
Rice_p1160004

Question for written answer
to the Commission 
Rule 117
Andreas Mölzer (NI) (20th March 2014)

Subject:  Dubious food imports from China

Since food from China is often considerably lower priced than domestic food, imports from the Middle Kingdom have been steadily increasing in the past few years. However, this is problematic because certain pesticides are allowed in Chinese agriculture that are forbidden in the Member States. According to a newspaper report, increasing quantities of fish, apples, strawberries and jam in particular are from China.

It seems that China is way ahead in terms of statistics for food that has attracted attention on arrival in the EU. In 2013 an EU food authority is said to have reported Chinese imports to the EU-wide Rapid Alert System no fewer than 435 times. Tests show the presence of genetically-modified ingredients, pesticides and even heavy metals.

1. How high is China’s share of food products imported into the EU?

2. What consequences can be drawn for inspections of food imports from countries that are reported so many times in the EU-wide Rapid Alert System?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission (13th May 2014)

1. China is the fourth commercial partner of the EU as regards the total trade in agricultural and fishery products and accounted for 4.85% of the imports into the EU of these products in 2012.

2. As part of the comprehensive body of legislation in place to ensure that food imported into the Union complies with EU safety requirements, the Commission established in 2010 a list of food and feed of non-animal origin which on the basis of known or emerging risk require an increased level of controls prior to their introduction into the EU. The list appears in Annex I to Regulation (EC) 669/2009 and is regularly reviewed on the basis of information sources which include data resulting from notifications received through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. At present the list features, amongst others, frozen strawberries, ‘Chinese Broccoli’, pomelos and tea originating from China.

When required, more stringent import conditions such as the compulsory presentation of results of sampling and analysis and of a health certificate verified by authorised representatives of the country of origin are adopted. This regime is at present applicable to a number of commodities including groundnuts originating from China due to the possible contamination with aflatoxins and rice products originating from China due to the possible presence of unauthorised genetically modified rice. Special conditions such as the suspension of imports of the food or feed in question can also be imposed if needed.

(Source: European Parliament)

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