Time for Change- European Union considers Food Safety Policies in Light of Recent Contamination
A recent health scare involving contaminated eggs has prompted the European Union to evaluate its food safety policies. New, higher security policies are being proposed to prevent future food safety hazards.
In July of 2017, the European Union discovered that a large amount of eggs throughout Europe had been contaminated with a toxic insecticide called fipronil. This contamination was widespread, affecting 24 of 28 member states of the European Union. In addition, Hong Kong received shipments of eggs that were possibly contaminated. This scare led to the recall of millions of eggs as well as the closure of 200 farms in the Netherlands.
Unfortunately, the contamination was not the only concern. After tracing the source of the contamination to the companies Chickfriend and Poultry Vision in the Netherlands, it was discovered that Belgian officials had known about the contamination for months – possibly as early as November 2016. The officials not only kept this information to themselves, but they also failed to provide information when an investigation began in June 2017.
Loss of Public Trust
One very important issue at hand is the public loss of trust in country governments and the EU as a whole. Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner of the European Union, recently made a statement about the importance of preserving this trust, warning that future deception could “eventually lead to destruction of trust in particular [of the] food industry”.
New Policies Offer Hope for Change
In light of the recent scandal, the EU has recognized that the major areas in need of improvement are cross-border communication and enforcement of food safety policies. After a EU meeting held on September 26, 2017, Andriukaitis described that new policies will include a better system of communication between the European Union, member countries, and the public. Also, each member state will be required to have a food safety officer. These regulations will ensure that rules are enforced and will prevent critical information from sliding through the cracks, as it did in this recent case. Crisis training will also be implemented with the new policies.
The European Union has made clear that it takes matters of food safety very seriously and is committed to improving its policies in the interest of public health. The new policies implemented will become part of the EU’s comprehensive system of food safety regulation.