Food Safety : New Measures to Supplement Rasff System

Article excerpt

The number of notifications to the European Union's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) continues to increase. This reflects the system's "increased effectiveness," explains the Commission, which particularly welcomes the role played by this EU tool during the E.coli crisis and the Fukushima nuclear accident. Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli presented the RASFF annual report for 2011 on 20 July. He commented: "In 2011, we dealt with a number of important crises. The EU managed to tackle them and the lessons we all learnt will no doubt guide us to do even better in the future". In a working paper on the lessons of the E.coli crisis, published in parallel, he proposes a set of measures to reinforce food safety in the EU.

9,157 NOTIFICATIONS IN 2011

The RASFF is an instrument that allows the rapid and effective exchange of information between member states and the Commission when a risk to human health is detected in the human or animal food chain. In 2011, 9,157 cases of non-compliance with EU food legislation were reported to the RASFF (compared with 8,582 the previous year), including 617 concerning serious risks. The problems encountered most frequently concerned the presence of aflatoxins in feed, dried fruit and nuts and migration of chemical substances from kitchen utensils made in China.

Of the 9,157 notifications registered, 5,345 were follow-ups and 3,812 were new cases concerning food (3,139), feed (361) or food contact materials (312). Another interesting observation is that notifications concerning pesticide residues increased from 2010 and almost quadrupled compared with 2007.

TRAINING AND COMMUNICATION

The RASFF was particularly useful during the 2011 E.coli crisis, states a working paper published in parallel with the annual report. …