Q&A to EU Commission – EU initiatives to tackle food fraud and AAC use

The Administrative Assistance and Cooperation (AAC), originally foreseen by Reg. (EC) No 882/2004, was established under Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2015/1918 of 22 October 2015, as dedicated IT tool to facilitate the exchange of administrative information between national authorities and the Food Fraud Network (FFN), working to combat cross-border violations of food law in Europe.

Waiting for the final review of Reg. (EC) No 882/2004 and for stronger instruments and sanctions to dissuade fraudsters, the Commission was asked to explain to what extend the AAC system is used. The number of cases is limited, as well as users (not yet liaison bodies outside the FFN): the trust in the system seems limited at the moment, possibly because of the high level of secrecy of the information related to this kind of cross-border investigations.

Subject:  EU initiatives to tackle food fraud

On 18 November 2015, the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation (AAC) system was launched to facilitate cooperation between the Member States in combating cross-border fraudulent practices in the food and feed chain.

Could the Commission indicate how this system has functioned in practice, thus far, to allow for greater cooperation between national authorities?

Could the Commission also give a time frame for the ‘later stage’ when the AAC system will be made available to liaison bodies outside the Food Fraud Network?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 3rd May 2016

The Administrative Assistance and Cooperation (AAC) system provides a platform for cross-border administrative cooperation between national authorities to swiftly exchange information allowing to confirm or exclude the existence of deceptive and fraudulent activities in the food and feed sector and to pursue them across borders. Since it was launched in November 2015, the system was used 54 times for such exchanges of information between Member States.

The Commission is planning on making the system available also to the liaison bodies working on cases of Administrative Assistance and Cooperation not related to fraudulent practices by 2017.

(Source: EU Parliament)

QeA to EU Commission – Imports of chlorinated chicken under the TTIP agreement

The following answer, given by the EU Commission, probably won’t stop galloping fears in the fiercest opposers of TTIP …but could help…

The point is not under discussion, in EU no similar treatment is or will be authorised in light of the TTIP: and if it will ever be, will be under EFSA scrutiny and not as a substitute of correct food hygiene practices, but as additional tool to enhance the safety of the final product. Poultry meat is one of the most “naturally “contaminated” raw material in the supply chain (high presence of Salmonella, Campylobacter etc…).

“Subject:  Imports of chlorinated chicken under the TTIP agreement

In recent months, there has been increased concern expressed by consumer organisations across the EU that imports of chlorinated chicken from the US to the EU may be allowed under a TTIP agreement and may, in the process, undermine the economic viability of poultry production in the EU.

Can the Commission therefore guarantee that imports of chlorinated chicken from the US to the EU will not be permitted under any TTIP agreement?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 3rd May 2016

In relation to antimicrobial treatments of meat or carcasses, the EU allows for the approval of such treatments, provided that they are considered safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In particular, they must only be used under strict conditions, fully respecting the stringent hygiene requirements that Union legislation requires to be applied all along the food chain process.

No antimicrobial treatments will be approved in the EU unless there is a clear scientific assessment confirming that they are beneficial for consumers (i.e. reduction of microbial contamination and reduction of safety risks). The Commission will not authorise the use of antimicrobial treatments as a replacement for hygiene practices but only as an additional tool to enhance the safety of the final product.

There is currently no application for the approval of chlorine as a substance to treat poultry carcasses and no discussion on the acceptance of chlorinated chicken in the EU as a result of the negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”

(Source: EU Parliament)