Food Scandal

8 March 2013    
Sophocles Sophocleous (S&D)


The scandal of horsemeat in prepared meals which broke recently has now been succeeded by news of another scandal involving bacteria in chocolate cakes sold by a well-known Swedish group.

According to a statement given by the group’s spokesman, the level of concentration of the bacteria does not represent a serious problem to public health. However, that is no excuse for such occurrences and it highlights the problem of limited or unsatisfactory controls by public health services in certain Member States and the fact that there is a problem in the food supply chain.

Will the Commission therefore say:

What is the outcome of the investigation so far?

What measures does it intend to take?

Does it intend to take measures to ensure that public health services in the Member States carry out more effective controls and does it intend to impose sanctions when the necessary food controls fall short?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

9 April 2013    

The responsibility for enforcing food chain legislation lies with Member States(1), which are required to establish a system of official controls to verify compliance by operators with requirements deriving therefrom and sanction non-compliances. As regards sanctions, food chain legislation requires that they should be effective, proportionate and dissuasive but leaves Member States discretion as to their type and level.

The Commission regularly monitors delivery by the Member States of their control duties, including through on-the-spot audits. As the guardian of the Treaties, the Commission will take appropriate measures when it becomes aware of a failure by a Member State to systematically enforce EU provisions, including the launching of infringement procedures in accordance with Article 258 TFEU.

So far, there is no reason to believe that the official controls systems established in Member States are ineffective. Notwithstanding this, the forthcoming proposal on official controls will aim at further strengthening the existing system, including as regards sanctions.

(1)    Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules, OJ L 165, 30.4.2004, p. 1.