Written Q&A to EU Commission – Contaminants and crab meat

Subject: Standards for the mitten crab

In large parts of the Netherlands it is forbidden to catch the mitten crab due to supposed risks to public health (from dioxins and PCBs, amongst other things). At present there is only a European standard covering the white meat of the crab, as a result of which the Dutch Government was able to introduce its own catch ban based on the brown meat. In all other EU Member States, the brown meat is not taken into account and the crabs may be caught. With no clear European standard for all edible parts of the crab at present, there is also no level playing field.

1. Does the Commission agree with me that the current situation, whereby there is no clear standard covering all edible parts of the mitten crab, is undesirable?

2. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is reportedly looking into the desirability of standardisation in respect of all edible parts of the mitten crab in connection with food safety. When does the Commission expect a definitive decision in this regard? Is standardisation a given in time?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

Taking into account the different interpretations with regard to the part of crabs to be analysed for cadmium, it has been clarified that the maximum level established in the annex to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (1) in crabs and crab-like crustaceans applies to the muscle meat from appendages (legs and claws) only. For reasons of consistency, the part of crustaceans to which the maximum levels of dioxins and PCBs apply has been modified accordingly.

For consumers eating regularly the brown meat of crabs, an information note for the consumers has been made available on the website of the Commission (2).

Given the recent findings of dioxins and PCBs in mitten crab, an assessment is currently ongoing to verify if the usually consumed edible part from the mitten crab differs from the usually consumed edible part of other crabs and crab-like crustaceans.

In addition, Commission Recommendation 2013/711/EU (3) recommends Member States to monitor the presence of dioxins and PCBs in mitten crab.

The outcome of the assessment and the results of the monitoring will enable the Commission to decide on the maximum level for dioxins and PCBs to apply in the case of mitten crab.

⋅1∙ Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs (OJ L 364, 20.12.2006, p. 5).

⋅2∙ http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/chemicalsafety/contaminants/information_note_cons_brown_crab_en.pdf

⋅3∙ Commission Recommendation 2013/711/EU of of 3 December 2013 on the reduction of the presence of dioxins, furans and PCBs in feed and food (OJ L 323, 4.12.2013, p. 37).

© European Union, 2014 – Source: European Parliament

Written Q&A to EU Commission – Food frauds and FVO powers

Question for written answer to the Commission 

Marc Tarabella (S&D) , Jean Louis Cottigny (S&D)

Subject:  Range of FVO audits

Could the Commission broaden the range of the Food & Veterinary Office (FVO) audits so that they cover food fraud?

Does the Commission share the view that the FVO and the Member States should carry out regular unannounced, independent and mandatory inspections in order to detect intentional infringements and ensure that the most stringent food safety standards are met?

In order to restore and maintain consumer confidence, it is important to be transparent as regards the manner in which official inspections and checks are carried out, and also to publish the reports or findings on the checks and inspections conducted on operators in the food industry.

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission (21st February 2014)

Through its audits, the FVO assesses whether the controls in place in Member States to verify compliance with the EU agri-food chain rules deliver effectively and allow proper enforcement. In doing so, it also identifies potential weak points in official controls along the food chain, or the governing legal framework, which may provide opportunities for potential irregularities.

Member States’ official controls to verify compliance with the agri-food chain rules are unannounced (Regulation (EC) No 882/2004). The proposed Regulation on official controls, currently discussed by the co-legislators, introduces and expands that principle to regular controls directed at identifying intentional violations. As regards FVO audits, the current legislation does not mandate it to carry out unannounced inspections. Moreover, the Commission considers that the Member States themselves are better placed to carry out such inspections on the basis of their on-the-ground intelligence, and their investigative powers.

Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 already requires Member States to make control information available to the public. The proposal referred to above requires competent authorities to publish regularly and timely information on official controls, non-compliances, and measures or penalties applied. Moreover, competent authorities will be enabled to make publicly available the outcome of controls performed on individual operators and information about their scoring against food chain law requirements (e.g. ‘smileys’). As regards the audits of the FVO, the Commission underlines that the results of these are published routinely, and since 1998.

© European Union, 2014 – Source: European Parliament