During the week of 13th January 2014, MEPs discussed and voted on a report on food shortage, fraud in the food production chain and improved surveillance of such cases.
Ensuring food safety and protecting the interests of consumers were always important goals of the EU, even more so inside the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European Parliament, whose member is also MEP Zofija Mazej Kukovič. Lately, however, greater attention has been given to the related question of food fraud. The MEP used this opportunity to say: ?As consumers we have learnt to accept everything and not be aware of the importance of personal interest in what we eat. Irregularities happen all across the chain, from production, to processing to sales.?
Implementation of legislation dealing with food fraud differs across Member States, while surveillance remains limited. Consequently a lot of food fraud cases are left undiscovered, especially when they do not represent a threat to public health. The complexity of cross-border food chain, the pressure to produce ever cheaper food and the economic crisis with its austerity measures, have all contributed to the spread of further food fraud cases.
Recent scandals, such as the use of road salt in foodstuffs, marketing of ordinary eggs as organic and the horse meat affairs, all point to the need for further regulation of this field. This need is further reinforced by the damage these scandals have had on consumer confidence. While food is safer than ever before, consumer confidence is very low, with already one third of them not trusting food labels.
Adopting this legislation directly affects the everyday lives of EU citizens, as food products that we use on a daily basis are also most often subject to food fraud. These are products like olive oil, fish, organically produced food, milk, wheat, honey, maple syrup, coffee and tea, spices, wine and fruit juice. The new legislation intends to improve cross-border cooperation with the goal of ensuring a more effective means of finding cases of food fraud. We also need stronger sanctions, so that the costs of being discovered are made greater than economic benefits obtained from fraud. The European Union must be more connected and determined in fighting food fraud. At the same time, we must ourselves be careful and take on our part of responsibility for healthy food. By choosing locally produced foodstuff, we positively influence our health and avoid the majority of fraud at the same time.
FOOD FRAUD Food fraud is a deliberate and intention misrepresentation of food, its ingredients or wrapping, or giving wrongful or misleading information on the product with the intention of gaining an economic advantage.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF FOOD FRAUD:
? Replacing key ingredients with cheaper substitutes,
? Incorrect labelling of animal source,
? Incorrect labelling of weight,
? Selling ordinary products as organically produced,
? False use of geographic indications,
? Labelling farmed fish as caught in the sea,
? Selling food past its expiration date.