Question for written answer E-007789/12 to the Commission
Mara Bizzotto (EFD)
(3 September 2012)
Subject: The Czech Republic’s Food Pillory initiative — a best practice to disseminate
The Czech Republic’s Ministry of Agriculture has recently opened Food Pillory, a website on which foods that are potentially harmful to consumers are reported and classified according to three categories: poor quality, contaminated or dangerous.
Each food that is ‘pilloried’ includes photos, detailed descriptions containing the reasons for the alert, information relating to the chain of stores where it was found and the country of origin or producer. For example, foods with incorrect or misleading labels are reported, as are rotten or adulterated foods. This is an exemplary initiative which aims to protect consumers and to provide the utmost transparency with regard to the food on the market.
1. Is the Commission aware of this initiative?
2. Has the Commission considered setting up, with the support of EFSA, an EU‐wide site along the lines of Food Pillory? Could the Commission ask individual Member States to implement similar initiatives nationally?
Answer given by Mr Šefčovič on behalf of the Commission
(23 October 2012)
The Commission is aware of the initiative taken by the Czech Autority.
The Commission, through the RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Feed and Food) portal already makes available to the public some information about the products that have been rejected at the border or found in the internal market representing a possible risk for public health. This information concern the risk posed, the type of product, the origin, the countries where the product has been distributed and the measures taken.
The Commission, taking into account the more than 30 years experience of the RASFF system, stresses that in this kind of initiatives, particular attention should be paid to the respect of confidentiality of certain information and the robustness of data published before the information is made available to the public.
The Commission does not plan to ask individual Member States to implement similar initiatives
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It’s interesting to notice how, once again, the Commission, well aware of the possible outcomes of such systems, in this answer takes a very cautious position on this issue,
The publication of confidential data, in case of a false alert, could expose the Authorities to judicial actions from the companies, whose brand was heavily damaged. The Court of Justice, in some old cases, has always denied the responsibility of the Commission (only a “manager” of the system), but some local Court in Italy, for instance, have recognized economic restore to the companies for similar facts, condemning the local sanitary Authorities.