Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson who sits on the Environmental Public Health and food Safety Committee of the European Parliament commenting on her role as shadow Rapporteur for the important file for the Agri- Food sector on food crisis, fraud in the food chain and the control thereof said:
“Food safety and food fraud has been gaining more attention in recent years particularly as a result of fraudulent labelling of foods and other illegalities which impacted on the food chain.
“Some of these repulsive actions seen road salt used in food; horsemeat labelled as beef and methanol-contaminating alcohol spirits.
“These fraudulent activities had a seriously negative impact on consumers’ confidence and trust in the food chain. Although food is in fact safer than ever consumers are still suspicious. People across the EU are 260 times more likely to die as a result of the flu than due to unsafe food, yet one third of consumers do not trust the information provided by food labelling.
“Food fraud remains largely undetected, because the risk of apprehension is small and the potential economic gain is vast. The main factor in food fraud going undetected is the fact that governments have no accurate register of traders’ active EU-wide, cross-border overview and co-operation is all but non-existent. This needs to change if we are to regain consumer confidence.
“The EU Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) has indicated that it is not currently equipped or trained to focus on food fraud and as one of the Committee contact person for FVO, I want to increase its capacity.
“Combating food fraud is a relatively new issue in Europe and it is important that the industry and those local organisations concerned about this issue are aware of my involvement with compiling this report and I would encourage them to contact me with any issues or concerns that they would like raised or addressed.
“As MEP I am keen to work with all who are interested in this area and to play my part to address the structural weaknesses already identified in the food chain.
“One of the areas I would be keen to hear from people who may be affected by the proposal in the report which states that “all commercial operators which process, trade or store raw materials, food ingredients or food products in the human food chain, including traders and owners of cold stores, should be registered as food business operators and subject to controls”
“If you have any views or concerns on this or any other aspect of the proposal you should contact my office or e-mail email@example.com
“I look forward to working with you on this matter as I take this work forward to help strengthen the confidence of consumers and the integrity of food chain.”