Food defense requirements in EU?

During the next meeting of the ENVI Committee (Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the EU Parliament), on 27-28th February, there will be an extremely interesting exchange of views with the EU Commission about the food defense topic.

This is a very very preliminary step and no specific initiative at EU level at the moment is foreseen, but for sure it could be a starting point in that sense.

Here below an extract from the ENVI Committee report, explaining where do we stand now:

“Food defense means the protection of food from intentional contamination or adulteration by biological, chemical, physical, or radiological agents. It includes measures regarding prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery from intentional acts of food contamination.

The WHO, in 2007, identified intentional food contamination as one of the main global health threats of the 21st century and stated that food has become an instrument for terrorist attacks.

In the European food industry, food defense is a rather new concept, unlike in the USA where the concept of food defense originated and where it is extensively regulated. In the past years, incidents such as terrorist attacks and food fraud have contributed to the development and implementation of food defense systems in at least some Member States.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in 2001 in the US, the “Health and Security Committee” was set up in the EU. This group was given a formal status and assigned specific tasks in 2013, when Decision 1082/2013/EU on serious cross-border threats was adopted. At global level, the Commission also participates in the Global Health Security Initiative on CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) threats, working closely with the WHO and the G7+ states to create a global strategy for preparedness and response to potential health threats.

However, there is no comprehensive regulation of food defense at EU level. In view of the rising importance of the issue, the objective of this exchange of views is to discuss existing EU and Member State policies and to hear the Commission’s point of view in relation to possible EU action in this area.”

(Source: ENVI Committee, European Parliament)

QeA to the EU Commission – German beer contaminated with glyphosate

A bit of clarity on this issue, which recently landed on all the EU newspapers, was really needed…scroll down for more.

Question for written answer to the Commission

– Stefan Eck (GUE/NGL) , Anja Hazekamp (GUE/NGL) , Klaus Buchner (Verts/ALE) –

25th February 2016

Subject: German beer contaminated with glyphosate

On 25 February 2016, the Umweltinstitut München e.V. (Munich Environmental Institute) published a study on the contamination of German beer with the pesticide glyphosate.

The test results show that the residue levels of glyphosate in the various beers range from 0.46 to 29.74 micrograms of glyphosate per litre of beer. This is of great concern, as the current maximum residue level for glyphosate in drinking water is 0.1 micrograms per litre, but there are currently no maximum residue levels set for beer in EU legislation.

1. Given the health risks posed by glyphosate, why has the Commission not set any maximum residue levels for glyphosate in beer?

2. In the Commission’s opinion, to what extent have the German authorities been negligent in allowing the placing on the market of mass consumption goods that contain high residue levels of a pesticide that is known for its health risks?

3. What actions is the Commission planning to take to safeguard the health and safety of EU consumers, given the large scale of beer consumption in the EU?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 22nd April 2016

In Annex II and III to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005, maximum residue levels (MRLs) are set for raw agricultural commodities such as barley and hops. Since beer is a processed and composite product for which no specific MRL is set, the MRL for beer applied by competent authorities is derived from the MRLs for raw agricultural commodities (barley: 20 mg/kg, hops: 0.1 mg/kg), taking into account changes in the levels of pesticide residues caused by processing.

The Commission is not aware that the competent authorities in Germany had allowed the placing on the market of beer that did not comply with the applicable MRL. However, the glyphosate residue levels in the German beer samples quoted by the Honourable Members suggest that the concentrations were well below the legal limit (i.e. the MRL), which in turn is based on the residue levels expected according to good agricultural practice and well below the level that would be necessary to protect human health.

The Commission continues to work closely with Member States’ competent authorities to ensure that MRLs established in the legislation are complied with, and that food products are safe for human consumption.

(Source: EU Parliament)