Traceability of meat: towards the introduction of a European quality code

30 May 2013    
Gaston Franco (PPE)


In the wake of the horsemeat scandal that tarnished the image of the agro-food industry, France is planning to take steps to improve the traceability of meat.

At a meeting with industry professionals, it was proposed to create from next September a ‘quality code’, particularly with regard to mechanically recovered meat, which consists of low-quality leftover meat mixed with collagen and fat, in bulk and frozen, and used by manufacturers to make ready meals.

This quality code would force meat traders to comply with detailed rules on traceability and quality.

The French Deputy Minister for Agro-food has stated that he wanted this agreement to apply across Europe.

Has the Commission considered participating in the implementation of such an agreement?

11 July 2013    
Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

According to the General Food Law(1) of the EU, traceability is already today a general requirement for all food. Detailed implementing provisions have been adopted by the Commission for all food of animal origin(2). They impose the updating and keeping, on a daily basis, of an accurate description of the food, a reference identifying the lot, batch or consignment, its volume or quantity, the name and address of the food business from which it was dispatched and those to whom the food is dispatched.

Food traders are food business operators and need to comply with the detailed implementing provisions.

The Commission does not endorse national guidelines to good hygiene practice but publishes a register of all these guidelines(3) when forwarded by Member States.

(1)    Article 18 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety (OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1).
(2)    Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 931/2011 of 19 September 2011 on the traceability requirements set by Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council for food of animal origin.