Q&A to EU Commission – Seafood labelling frauds

Question for written answer
to the Commission 
Rule 117
Gilles Pargneaux (S&D) (17 th March 2014)

Traceability in the fish industry in France has been tested by the BLOOM and Oceana organisations, by researchers from Inserm (the National Institute of Health and Medical Research) and the National Natural History Museum and by Terra Ecomagazine.

These organisations joined forces in France to conduct a unique investigation into labelling fraud in relation to fish. Over the course of a year, ten regions were sampled and nearly 400 samples were collected from the refrigerated aisles of supermarkets, fishmongers, restaurants, ready meals and frozen foods.

The study showed that species substitution remains rare in France, with fraud at a level of 3.5%.

The results of this inquiry can be compared to similar studies carried out in various European Union countries.

In some countries, the level of labelling fraud is very high: 32% fraud in Italy, 30% of hake alone in Spain, 19% of cod in Ireland.

Can the Commission state whether it will soon draw up a European strategy to combat labelling fraud in the seafood sector?


Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission (20th May 2014)

The Commission is aware of the study mentioned by the Honourable Member. More generally it closely monitors the works undertaken within or outside the EU aiming to assess the magnitude of fish species substitution.

The available results lead to conclude that discrepancies between the real species and the information conveyed to the consumer occur to different extents according to the species, the countries and the place of the food chain. However they are sometimes detected in significant proportion.

Following the horse meat scandal the Commission has decided to undertake actions to strengthen the ability of the EU control system as a whole to detect and counter food fraud. A key objective is to improve the capabilities of the Member States which are responsible for carrying controls to verify that food products placed on the market comply with the relevant national and EU rules. It is also considered critical to facilitate administrative assistance and cooperation among national enforcers in the case of cross border violations.

In the particular case of mislabelling of fish species, the Commission is currently investigating the detection methods available in the context of official controls before deciding for any further action, for instance in the form of coordinated control plans in accordance with Article 53 of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.

(Source: European Parliament)

Written Q&A to EU Commission – Latest answer on trans fatty acids

Here another answer of the Commission about trans-fats. It’s quite fresh (25th February 2014).

It’s clear from this answer that:

1) The Commission is following with great attention the FDA move about trans fats;

2) Probably the report of the Commission on trans-fats (art. 30(7) Reg. EU n. 1169/2011) will not be released in the next few weeks. My opinion is that it’s quite sure the Commission will wait the end of the comment period (4th March 2014) to see how FDA will proceed on this issue;

3) The Commission refuses to address the matter applying the precautionary principle, strongly invoked by MEPs, but I think a little bit out of context in this case.

Enjoy the healthy reading!

Question for written answer to the Commission – Rule 117 – Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE)

P-001091-14 (4th February 2014)

In October 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Federal Register Notice stating that, based on new scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels, partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), which are the primary dietary source of industrially produced trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are not generally recognised as safe for any use in food, based on current scientific evidence establishing the health risks associated with the consumption of trans fat. The Notice states that PHOs are therefore food additives which should be subject to a pre-market approval by the FDA.

The FDA decision is based on the latest scientific evidence which has demonstrated and confirmed the significant health risks posed by trans fats. These are responsible for the burden of diet-related chronic disease which the Commission aims to address.

Has the Commission been liaising with the FDA in order to update its policy and legislative response to the risks posed by trans fats?

Can the Commission provide an update on the progress made on the report on trans fats, which is to be submitted by December 2014 as required by Regulation 1169/2011? In light of the latest scientific evidence and the FDA Notice, is the Commission willing to bring forward the publication of this report?

Would the Commission consider applying the precautionary principle and take immediate regulatory action in order to restrict the presence of trans fats in processed food and to allow its use only after pre-market approval has been granted, as planned by the FDA?

P-001091/2014 – Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission (25.2.2014)

The Commission is aware of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Federal Register Notice on partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), from October 2013, which includes FDA’s preliminary determination that PHOs, the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food. The FDA has opened a 60-day comment period on this preliminary determination to collect additional data and to gain input on the time potentially needed for food manufacturers to reformulate products that currently contain artificial trans fat should this determination be finalized, which was extended by 60 days, to March 8, 2014. The Commission has so far not yet liaised with the FDA but is continuing to follow the issue, including the results of the consultation and the final decision of the FDA.

 The Commission is in the process of drafting the report on trans fats as required in Article 30(7) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers. In order to be able to include new data, the Commission is undertaking a consumer research study that will be finalised in 2014. Therefore, it is difficult to advance the publication of the report.

The issue of trans fat has been discussed during the negotiations of Regulation (EU) No 1169/20011. The co legislator has agreed that the Commission will submit afore mentioned report that would address all the pertinent questions. Therefore, there is no need at this stage to take a differing approach.

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