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ECA Report: EU Food Safety

ECA Report: EU Food Safety
Reaction to the European Court of Auditors Report:
Chemical Hazards in Our Food:
EU Food Safety Policy Protects Us But Faces Challenges

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) published today the report ‘Chemical hazards in our food: EU food safety policy protects us but faces challenges’. The main conclusion of the report was that although the EU legal framework for protecting consumers from chemical hazards in food is soundly based, major implementation and enforcement issues jeopardize its proper functioning at Member State level.

Euro Coop welcomes the report and praises the ECA's initiative to address loopholes in food safety, which is a matter of high concern for Euro Coop Members.

In order to tackle the pressing enforcement and implementation issues flagged in the report, Euro Coop calls first and foremost on the development of a strategy which seeks to improve co-ordination and efficiency among the different competent bodies rather than compromising on the standards. A telling example is that currently there are several layers of competences which result into inefficiencies and double testing of the same substance. Groups of chemicals such as enzymes, food flavourings or additives are instead systemically under-checked. In this respect, we particularly appreciate ECA’s recommendation to recognise that the private sector could play a key role in ensuring a better use of resources, by establishing for example partnership with public bodies and co-operating to put in place reliable food safety checks. Other options to be explored to better streamline operations could also include open access to safety checks data and the use of blockchain.

Euro Coop members are staunch supporters of the EU food safety system as proven in particularly by the policies regulating their own-brand products, which see the application of the precautionary principle at their very core. This is fully in line with our consumer-members’ needs and expectations, who seek in the co-operative products a guarantee of the highest standards of food safety, which in many cases go well beyond legislative requirements. For example, in 2017 Coop Denmark, i.e. Denmark’s largest retailer and market leader, implemented an ambitious strategy to phase out “The Dirty Dozen”, twelve groups of chemicals which, although legally permitted on the market, have been eliminated from their own-brands due to their potential harmful effect on human health. In some instances this measure has also stimulated innovation in the sector and advanced research into the substitution of ingredients/materials.  Another example comes from Coop in Italy - also market leader – who since the early 90’s has limited the residues in its own-brands looking not only at single substance but also at the so-called “cumulative effect”.

We believe that the EU food safety system is a value to be preserved and that especially thanks to new technologies a lot can be achieved in order to streamline operations and attain better implementation and enforcement results. No compromise should be accepted on the standards, with particular reference to the precautionary principle - a real stronghold of the EU food safety system – to the benefit of consumers in the EU and worldwide.

Euro Coop is ready to play an active role in supporting EU and Member States in this path by putting at disposal its longstanding experience in coupling sound science with exceptionally high standards of consumer protection.

Read in PDF.

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For more information, please contact:

Giulia Tarsitano, Food Policy Officer
Email: [email protected], tel: +32-2-285-00-74

Rosita Zilli, Deputy Secretary-General
Email: [email protected], tel: +32-2-285-00-72

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