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)

Written Q&A to EU Commission – India’s boycott of European oil and wine

Question for written answer to the Commission – Mara Bizzotto (NI)

24th July 2014

Subject: India’s boycott of European oil and wine

India is currently implementing a tough trade protection measure and is boycotting certain European food products. The Indian authorities have, in fact, decided to enforce more stringently their rules on food fraud and labelling. Indian Customs have therefore seized, and blocked in their ports, tonnes of food and alcohol from Europe because their labels do not indicate the precise content of salt, as prescribed by Indian health legislation. In Mumbai alone, to give but one example, 35 containers full of Italian and Spanish olive oil and hundreds of bottles of wine have, for two whole months, been crammed into warehouses that are not suitable for preserving the products, which by now will have almost certainly perished. This restrictive interpretation of customs regulations by the Indian authorities, to the detriment of European products, was adopted after the EU halted and then banned imports of the Alphonso variety of mango.

Can the Commission therefore answer the following questions:

  • Will it take action to resolve the situation and protect free competition?
  • Will it also provide financial assistance to European producers who have suffered damage?

Answer given by Mr De Gucht on behalf of the Commission – 3rd September 2014

The Commission is aware of the problems European food exporters face in India due to stringent enforcement of Indian food labelling and food safety requirements. The Indian authorities appeared to have started this stringent enforcement in September 2013 by discontinuing the acceptance of stickers for labelling of mandatory information. Since February 2014 Indian food safety authorities also require that labels of spirits list ingredients. In addition to the blocked shipments of spirits, the Commission is aware that some European wine shipments were not released by Indian authorities due to labelling deficiencies. Moreover some European olives, preserved by oxidation, were not cleared initially as Indian food safety standards do not include this preservation method that results in a lower salt content than usual for other types of preserved olives.

The Commission has taken up these issues since the autumn of 2013 and has raised it at several occasions with Indian authorities, including at Commissioner’s level, and at plenary sessions of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Commission continues to raise this issue with Indian authorities to try to find solution while noting that food products imported into India must comply with the Indian requirements for labelling and food safety.

The Commission does not provide financial assistance to European exporters that may have been impacted by the requirements of Indian authorities.

(Source: European Parliament)