EU adopts measures to strengthen the agri-food chain

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EU adopts measures to strengthen the agri-food chainThe European Commission has adopted a package of measures to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain. Food safety is essential to ensure consumers’ confidence and sustainability of food production.

The package of measures provide a modernised and simplified, more risked-based approach to the protection of health and more efficient control tools to ensure the effective application of the rules guiding the operation of the food chain.

The package responds to the call for better simplification of legislation and smarter regulation thus reducing administrative burden for operators and simplifying the regulatory environment. Special consideration is given to the impact of this legislation on SMEs and micro enterprises which are exempted from the most costly and burdensome elements in the legislation.

The current body of EU legislation covering the food chain consists of almost 70 pieces of legislation. Today’s package of reform will cut this down to 5 pieces of legislation and will also reduce the red-tape on processes and procedures for farmers, breeders and food business operators (producers, processors and distributors) to make it easier for them to carry out their profession.

Tonio Borg, Health and Consumer Commissioner, said, “smarter rules for safer food.” This is how I can best summarise the important package of measures adopted by the Commission to reform Europe’s agri-food chain.

“We have to be proud of the system in place. It’s probably the safest in the world but today’s proposed reform aims to modernise, simplify and strengthen the legal framework governing official controls, animal and plant health and plant reproductive material to ensure a safer food chain.

“Why? Because we have an extensive existing body of EU agri-food chain legislation: I propose to reduce to 5 the current body of almost 70 pieces of legislation. Not only is the volume of legislation cut back, but the system proposed today has been streamlined, made more efficient and easier for the actors in the agri-food chain to carry out their profession.

“The EU’s from farm-to-fork policy aims to ensure a high level of health for humans, animals and plants through the development of risk based rules as well as preventing, managing and mitigating risks that threaten our food chain.

“Today’s package is particularly relevant in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. Restoring the trust and confidence of our citizens and trading partners is key given that the agri-food industry is the second largest economic sector in the EU, employing over 48 million people and is worth some €750 billion a year.”

The Commissioner ended by saying that “today’s package aims to provide smarter and fitter rules to meet the needs of all the actors involved in the food chain to carry out their roles and functions as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.”

Businesses will benefit from simpler, science and risk-based rules in terms of reduced administrative burden, more efficient processes and measures to finance and strengthen the control and eradication of animal diseases and plant pests.

Consumers will benefit from safer products and a more effective and more transparent system of controls along the chain.

The Environmental Health Directorate in Malta conducts inspections and issues warnings on food and other consumer items that are deemed dangerous to people.

The inspectorate can be contacted at Continental Business Centre, Cutrico Buildings, Old Railway Track, Santa Venera between 7am and 3pm, tel: 2133 7333, e-mail complaints.ph@gov.mt .

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