Faced with all the new obligations which the new Food Information Regulation entails, European butchers are looking for practical and flexible solutions. This emerged clearly at the European Meat Forum held at the European Parliament in Brussels.
"No to excessive food labelling" - was the main demand and the motto of this year's European Meat Forum. The International Butchers' Confederation (IBC) had invited Dr. Tonio Borg, the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, to speak.
EU Commissioner Dr. Tonio Borg. Photo: si
The Maltese politician first outlined the basic features of the Regulation: "Labels should be clear, legible and comprehensible and not misleading for consumers - in that order." They should help consumers make informed choices when buying food and assist them in improving their lifestyle.
When do regulations become excessive?
The implementation order on labels of origin for fresh and frozen meat is currently under preparation and is to be voted upon by the end of December.
At the same time work is currently under way on an assessment of the consequences of expanding the labelling requirements to include meat as an ingredient.
The Commissioner did not wish to disclose any results in advance. He merely stated that this type of labelling was also basically viable. It is simply a matter of costs, he said. Here opinions diverge on what constitutes an acceptable extent and on the point at which regulation becomes excessive.
With regard to the revised regulations on official controls, the EU Commission representative stated that a balance needed to be found between cost-effectiveness on the one hand and affordable fees for all on the other.
But one thing is clear, he said: more controls can be expected. Although it is important to draw distinctions, he said. The type and also the frequency of the checks need to be based on the level of risk, and the dependability of the businesses should also be taken into consideration.
Five core demands
IBC President Jean-Marie Oswald set out the core demands of the European butchery sector. Food inspection is the responsibility of national governments and, as such, no fees should be charged for official routine checks. The principle of proportionality should apply regarding the size of the business and the level of the fee. He also demanded special arrangements for small businesses.
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Source: afz – allgemeine fleischer zeitung 48/2013