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Worrying decline of food controls in Europe

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | November 20, 2019
The number of food controls and the resources allocated to them are dwindling across Europe.
Food in Europe   Eggs
This is the worrying trend that emerges from the report ‘Keeping food in check’, published by BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation.

Topics: Food controls Europe

In order to verify that businesses comply with EU food safety and labelling laws, BEUC calls on governments to increase resources for controls and on the EU Commission to ensure that Member States’ reporting is complete, easy to access and comparable across countries.

All Member States are required by law to report on their inspection activities every year. BEUC analysed data on official food controls from 12 countries.2 Here are the main findings:

With some rare exceptions, human and financial resources for food controls are decreasing across the EU, as are the number of checks;

Some control staff have flagged that they lack the necessary resources to carry out their duties;

Controls of the foods most likely to cause poisoning such as eggs, milk and meat are decreasing;

Member States’ patchy reporting makes comparisons difficult, if not impossible;

Member States give low to no priority to labelling checks;

Few countries choose to publish the results of inspections of individual operators and to inform consumers about hygiene standards in restaurants and food shops.

Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC, commented: “Our report shows that national governments are regrettably cutting corners when it comes to checking the vital resources that are our food. Even products prone to causing food poisoning such as meat, eggs and dairy are subjected to fewer and fewer controls.

"Several scandals have recently hit the headlines, including tainted baby milk and eggs as well as meat unfit for human consumption. Consumers then legitimately wonder whether governments are effectively ensuring that businesses play by the rules and whether they have the means to do so. Consumer mistrust in food products ultimately harms businesses and the economy as a whole.”