New Question to EU Commission about illegal marketing of Sambuca

Italian MEPs are stressing again this issue to the Commission, with the following pressing questions. The “illegal” marketing of Sambuca in UK is going on from several months, without any apparent intervention by the Member States interested.

Question for written answer to the Commission – Giancarlo Scottà (EFD) – 14th February 2014

Subject: illegal marketing of Sambuca

The criteria set out in Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council stipulate that the spirit drink called Sambuca must be a colourless aniseed-flavoured liqueur, with a natural anethole content of not less than 1 gram per litre and not more than 2 grams per litre, and a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 38%.

It is now more than six months since the Commission answered my Written Question E‐004582/2013, in which Commissioner Dacian Cioloş said the Commission would examine the issue and take the necessary action, including contacting the Member States concerned. However, recent investigations indicate continuing sales of products that are labelled as ‘Sambuca’ but do not in fact comply with one or more of the aforementioned criteria. There is, in particular, evidence of the widespread presence of bottles of coloured liqueur labelled as ‘Sambuca’ and flavoured with strawberry, banana, mint or liquorice. These counterfeits have negative implications in two ways: they are damaging the image of the real Sambuca, and they are attracting younger consumers because of their colour and flavour.

Reports continue to come in, particularly from the UK market, despite the two circulars issued by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) in July and September 2013, which alerted the supervisory authorities to the illegal marketing of bottles of counterfeit ‘Sambuca’.

Although I am aware that it is Member States’ responsibility to control spirit drinks and to take the necessary action to ensure that they comply with EU rules, can the Commission answer the following questions:

1. Does it have a record of the reports made, actions undertaken and results achieved so far by the Member States?

2. Is the newly formed task force on food fraud, operating within DG SANCO, up to date and taking the matter in hand?

3. What further action does the Commission intend to take to improve results in combating this illegal commercial practice, which, as stated above, is not only damaging the image of the real Sambuca but is also attracting younger consumers?

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