Written Q&A to EU Commission – Food frauds countermeasures

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Diane Dodds (NI)

25th September 2014

Subject:  Securing a safe and transparent food chain

The UK recently announced the establishment of a body tasked with combating crime within the food chain, the Food Crime Unit. This is very clearly a development resulting from the horse meat scandal.

Within this context, can the Commission provide an update as to what steps have been taken in recent months to secure a safe and transparent food chain on a European level?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission – 31st October 2014

The Commission confirms that continuous efforts are being deployed to implement and develop the initiatives mentioned in its answer to Written Question E ‐004498/2014.

Members of the network of national contact points for food fraud are increasingly engaged in cooperation and mutual assistance on cross-border cases. The network meets on a regular basis, showing to be also a useful forum for sharing experience.

Work is progressing on the setting up of a dedicated IT tool to serve the network above. This tool is going to support the data exchange between the Member States and with the Commission for the purpose of strengthening administrative assistance and cooperation.

To strengthen the capability of the control systems to detect food fraud ten modules of training on e-commerce and on investigation techniques are being offered in 2014-2015 under the Better Training for Safer Food programme.

A Conference on ‘Food fraud: a joint effort to ensure the safety and integrity of our food’ organised jointly by the Italian Presidency and the European Commission was held in Rome on 23-24 October 2014. It gathered organisations and bodies active at national and EU levels on the different aspects of the fight against food fraud.

Discussions are also ongoing with Member States on the possibility to develop further coordinated control plans in accordance with Article 53 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004

(Source: European Parliament website)

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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