Food Law News - EU - 2002

EP News Report, 17 April 2002

HYGIENE - Environment Committee welcomes 'farm to table' food legislation

Two new regulations proposed by the Commission, one on general food hygiene and the other on specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin, were welcomed by members of the Environment Committee this morning when they adopted two reports by Horst SCHNELLHARDT (EPP-ED, D).

The general regulation will bring together and recast 17 existing directives governing food hygiene, animal health aspects of animal-derived products and official inspections of products of animal origin. It should enable a clear and consistent body of EU food law to be developed, containing uniform definitions and principles and based on a comprehensive 'farm to table' approach.

One key point of the proposal is the compulsory application of the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) system in all food businesses. HACCP will have to be used by food producers to monitor critical points in the production process. In an amendment the committee said that, while it was not yet practicable to apply HACCP to the whole primary sector, the further introduction of HACCP practices must be encouraged.

Another aim of the new legislative package is that food operators should bear full responsibility for the safety of the food they produce. On this point, the committee adopted an amendment calling for all food businesses to be registered to ensure they can be properly supervised.

In addition, the committee adopted an amendment enabling Member States to make special provision for food businesses in regions with 'special geographical constraints' that serve their local market as well as for traditional food production methods and materials provided these are not harmful to food hygiene.

The second report deals with specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin. One contentious issue was how to deal with game after it has been killed, since procedures vary in the Member States. MEPs felt that wild game meat should be subject to the same safety requirements as other meat and therefore adopted an amendment demanding that hunted animals which are to be sold or marketed should undergo an inspection laid down by the competent authority as soon as possible after killing and in any event before their meat is placed on the market.

The two reports (codecision procedure, first reading) are scheduled for debate at the May I plenary session in Strasbourg.

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