11 April 2013
Diogo Feio (PPE)
A new food scandal erupted this week with the news that elk lasagne sold by a well-known company actually contained pork. Sales have been suspended in 18 European countries after tests by Belgian authorities.
The pork content was not duly indicated and pork, as well as being responsible for more allergies than other meats, is prohibited by some religions.
1. Is the Commission aware that pork is being used in foods without this being indicated?
2. Does it intend to change the applicable labelling rules for processed foodstuffs to make it a requirement that the exact ingredients are indicated?
3. Given that, in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, the EU has adopted a plan to screen for undeclared horsemeat in processed foodstuffs, is it considering screening for undeclared pork or other foods and ingredients in a similar way?
Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission
16 May 2013
Under existing rules(1), the labelling of foods must not mislead the consumer, particularly as to the characteristics of the food including its true nature and content. All food ingredients must be labelled. The labelling of foods containing meat must also indicate the animal species concerned. Moreover, if an ingredient is mentioned in the name of the food, its quantity expressed as a percentage has to be provided in the list of ingredients.
These rules have been recently reviewed and strengthened(2). Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 maintains the requirement of labelling all food ingredients. Furthermore, in the case of meat products or meat preparations containing added proteins as such of a different animal origin, it requires that the name of the food shall bear an indication of the presence of those proteins and of their origin.
Fraudulent and deceptive labelling practices can be eliminated with appropriate enforcement of Union food law requirements, which lies with the national competent authorities. They must conduct appropriate official controls and impose dissuasive and effective sanctions. The forthcoming Commission proposal on official controls will aim at further strengthening the existing system, including the provisions on sanctions.
In the wake of recent findings, and of the result of the coordinated control plan(3), Member States are progressively including in their national control plans tests intended to ascertain the absence of undeclared meat species (including pork) in food products. Food business operators, with whom primary responsibility for compliance with food law requirements lies, should also be expected to adjust their own checks to the need to verify the correctness and reliability of the labelling used.
(1) Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, OJ L 109, 6.5.2000, p. 29.
(2) Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, amending Regulations (EC) No 1924/2006 and (EC) No 1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Commission Directive 87/250/EEC, Council Directive 90/496/EEC, Commission Directive 1999/10/EC, Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, Commission Directives 2002/67/EC and 2008/5/EC and Commission Regulation (EC) No 608/2004, OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 18. Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 enters into application on 13 December 2014.
(3) Commission Recommendation of 19 February 2013 on a coordinated control plan with a view to establish the prevalence of fraudulent practices (2013/99/EU), OJ L 48, 21.2.2013, p. 28.