Food Law News - EU - 2000

Commission Memo (MEMO/00/130), 22 December 2000

BSE - David Byrne Calls on German Authorities to Withdraw Products Containing Potentially Dangerous Materials from all EU and Third Country Markets

Commissioner David Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, called today on the Federal Republic to take immediate action to notify all other Member States of the measures which are being taken at national level. He made particular reference to the voluntary recall of food products produced before 1 October 2000 containing mechanically recovered meat. "I welcome these precautionary measures but I insist that they must apply also to all meat products and meat preparations exported to all other Member States and to third countries.

The Commission also required confirmation that any meat products which are identified by the German authorities as potentially containing materials which are a risk to health are urgently withdrawn from circulation not only in the Federal Republic but in export markets.

"My overriding concern is that consumers in other Member States are afforded an equal level of protection as consumers in Germany. If this cannot be achieved through the efforts of the Federal Authorities and the industries concerned, the Commission will be compelled to introduce a Community safeguard measure requiring the withdrawal of potentially contaminated products throughout the EU, " concluded David Byrne.

The Commission can confirm media reports that an inspection of the Food and Veterinary Office has taken place in Germany from 25th to 29th September 2000. The inspectors visited mainly the Länder of Bavaria and North Rhine Westfalia. A first draft was sent to the German authorities two days ago. The official version will be sent to the German authorities today for comments. The German authorities will be asked for an urgent reply. As soon as the replies of the German authorities have been inserted in the report, it will be made public and put on the Internet.

The inspection concentrated on EU-legislation which foresees

Preliminary findings and conclusions of the inspection were explained to the competent German authorities on the 29th of September during the final meeting in Bonn.

The findings of this report will now be discussed with the German authorities.

David Byrne also reminded that all Member States have been actively involved in the exercise of the EU Scientific Steering Committee to evaluate the geographical risk of each country. A first draft of the opinion which was published in July this year went for example already in March 1999 to the German veterinary authorities. From that very moment onwards, the German authorities were aware of the scientific assessment that it is "likely that BSE is present even if it is not confirmed" (opinion available at: "Chancellor Schröder must not have been aware of this when he said yesterday that EU-experts had for too long said Germany is BSE-free", commented David Byrne.

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