Europe-Wide Food Authority Will Boost Consumer Confidence

Article excerpt

Byline: JESSICA BOMFORD AND ZOE HUGHES

AN "innovative" European-wide Food Authority will re-establish consumer confidence in the food supply, the Government has said.

The proposed new European Food Authority would deal with "scientific assessment" of food supply issues, but Britain's high standards of public health would not be compromised, junior Health Minister, Hazel Blears, told MPs.

Opening a debate on European food law, Ms Blears said it was "vital" Britain grasped the chance to tackle food safety issues in an innovative way.

She said: "The Government attaches particular importance to the establishment of the European Food Authority as an aid to re-establishing consumer confidence in the food supply and making the European Union regulatory process more transparent.

"Whilst most food law is already subject to harmonised measures through the Union, the proposal now better reflects our own basic safeguards thus ensuring that the general principles of consumer protection and the prohibition of placing unsafe food on the market will apply to food legislation throughout the Union."

Ms Blears said that the new food law would mean changes to British law, but stressed that "our own high standards on public health on relation to food" would not be diluted.

She said that while the European Food Authority was limited to "scientific assessment and communication of that assessment", the legislation and control elements would remain with the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament.

Urging MPs to back the legislation, Ms Blears said: "It is vital that this opportunity to establish a truly innovative approach to the way food safety issues are tackled at the European Union level is not squandered by establishing a Food Authority that is so overburdened that it may not act in a pro-active manner."

The new European regulations also include measures to establish a general food law which would offer an "over-arching approach" to general principles which countries must take into consideration when developing food law. It also lays down requirements for food producers on issues such as traceability.

Tory health spokesman, Simon Burns, said the European Food Authority needed to have a "focused and concerted" approach when issuing food safety advice. …