12 January - 20 June 2016

EU publishes draft report on food fraud, listing top ten foods at risk

23 Oct 13

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety has published a draft report entitled “fraud in the food chain and the control thereof.” The report acknowledges that combating food fraud is a relatively new issue on the European agenda and that in the past it has never been a key priory for legislation and enforcement at EU or national level.  It notes that EU law does not currently provide a definition of food fraud and the only guidance available can be found in Regulation 178/2002 on general principles and requirements of food law.   It reports that “recent food fraud cases have exposed different types of food fraud such as replacing key ingredients with cheaper alternatives, wrongly labelling the animal species used in a meat product, incorrectly labelling weight, selling ordinary foods as organic, unfairly using origin or animal welfare quality logos, labelling aquaculture fish as wild-caught, counterfeiting and marketing food past its ‘use-by’ date.”  The foods which are most at risk of food fraud are listing as being: olive oil, fish, organic foods, milk, grains, honey and maple syrup and coffee and tea.   The majority of parties who contributed to the report believe that the number of cases of food fraud is rising. Food fraud generally occurs where the potential financial gain is high and risk of getting caught is low. Other factors also contributing to food fraud include pressure from the retail sectors and others to produce food more cheaply.  It suggests that the Commission and Member States “widen their focus, policies and controls from health and safety only to include food fraud as well.”   Recommendations include defining what constitutes food fraud, enhancing the Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office role in detecting food fraud cases, with member states cooperating more through Europol on cross border investigations.  Official control should aim to combat food fraud and competent authorities should always certify and scrutinise private control bodies. The food sector needs to get involved and set up anti-fraud programmes and a legal obligation for food business operators to report to competent authorities instances of fraudulent behaviour. It also recommends that enforcement bodies take a more policing approach moving away from an administrative and veterinary approach.

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