Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

International Fraud Exposes Weakness in EU Regulations; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

International Fraud Exposes Weakness in EU Regulations; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Troy

MINISTERS from across the European Union met at the start of this week to discuss measures to deal with the much-publicised horsemeat scandal.

Amazingly, the United Kingdom's national media continues to treat this issue as a food scare rather than a massive international fraud exploiting failures in the EU's regulatory system.

Instead of a widespread international police investigation to track down the criminals in a multi-million pound fraud, what is actually occurring is more like the classic final stage of a scare dynamic, the so-called "regulatory aftermath", with many politicians and the media braying for more legislation to fix the problem.

Specifically, there is a call for "speedier action on introducing country-of-origin labelling for processed beef and other meat products", as if putting different labels on packs is somehow going to prevent fraudsters adulterating the food which goes into the packs.

During the past three weeks we have witnessed the full flavour of the European dimension of this fraud. There has been one instance of adulteration of processed food in Ireland, two in Germany, three in Luxembourg, one in France, two in Italy, one in Denmark and Sweden, with unproven claims of Polish involvement.

This is a gigantic economic fraud. It is about time it was treated as such.

The root of the problem started a decade ago when the EU took over all "competence" to make food law from national governments. A new set of rules across Europe replaced the old dependence on regular inspection and testing of foodstuffs with a radical new system.

The EU's version of what is known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is based on a trail of paper, whereby any food product, as it passes along the chain from one firm to another, must be accompanied by a piece of paper certifying its nature and contents. …

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