The aim is to harmonize national laws so as to create a level playing field in this area of the single market. At present, according to the rapporteur, Undine-Uta BLOCH VON BLOTTNITZ (Greens, D), food irradiation is a commercial practice in only three Member States (France, Belgium and the Netherlands), while Germany and Sweden have banned it.
The original Commission proposal was made in 1988. Parliament held a first reading in 1989, but the second reading was held up until February this year pending agreement in Council on a common position. The final compromise texts incorporate much of the substance of the 14 second-reading amendments adopted by Parliament.
The legislation adopted involves two texts:
Council accepted Parliament's view that ionizing radiation should not be used as a substitute for hygiene or health practices or good manufacturing or agricultural practice. It also accepted a parliamentary amendmant acknowledging that consumers may have cause for concern about the consequences of the use of food irradiation. Parliament was also keen to ensure that the methods used to test whether foodstuffs have been irradiated are effective. To meet this concern, the Council agreed that Member States must inform the Commission of the test methods used and that these methods must be standardized or validated.
For previous item, see 15 October 1998