The European Fee is creating subsequent steps in occasions of disaster based mostly on the teachings discovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The contingency plan is a set of procedures to be carried out in occasions of disaster to make sure meals provide and security all through the EU. It would cowl totally different sectors associated to the meals system that could be affected, together with meals safety.
The Fee will create a everlasting discussion board that can embrace Member States and probably stakeholders from the meals provide chain. The discussion board would assist develop methods to enhance coordination on the EU and member state degree on the right way to monitor and reply to crises affecting meals.
The coordination of the roadmap states is best on the EU degree and that member states appearing alone can have destructive results on different nations and on the EU meals provide chain, together with the only market and the Worldwide Commerce.
Client confidence within the EU meals system could also be compromised because of lack of efficient meals security controls and tips, reminiscent of lowered official controls or personal controls on compliance with meals and feed security necessities, relying on the Fee.
The COVID-19 disaster confirmed that the EU meals provide chain responded properly, however within the preliminary levels there have been issues that threatened meals security.
Some sectors, merchandise, and teams of employees suffered essentially the most, together with employees shortages because of lockdown measures, lack of entry to cross-border or seasonal employees, restrictions on office situations, or COVID-19 outbreaks in processing vegetation, in addition to manufacturing warehousing challenges. . Many of the sources of demand for these sectors or merchandise disappeared nearly in a single day, notably eating places, lodges and catering, in addition to new well being necessities.
Threat of fraud and assure of meals security
The plans obtained greater than 65 feedback from corporations and associations with widespread themes that included calls to acknowledge the meals business as important and as a necessity to outline a meals disaster.
The European Meals Security Authority (EFSA) mentioned that reference needs to be made to the instruments that exist already, reminiscent of RASFF and DG SANTE’s community of disaster coordinators, and the way they match with the plan to keep away from duplication.
A rise in meals fraud incidents might be anticipated in occasions of disaster, so reporting methods like RASFF needs to be raised with discussion board members to deal with these points as effectively and rapidly as attainable, the company added.
The European Union of Livestock and Meat Industries (UECBV) welcomed the contingency plan including precautionary measures to stop crises, which is at all times higher than making an attempt to handle some of these incidents.
The European Shoppers Group (BEUC) mentioned that when a disaster impacts the meals system it’s important that full data from a dependable supply on whether or not or not it’s a potential meals security danger is made public as quickly as attainable and messages needs to be despatched inconsistent or contradictory. be prevented.
Management methods have been disrupted by COVID-19 and the Fee has given flexibility to member states to hold out controls, together with the likelihood, beneath sure situations, for meals business personnel to hold out controls.
“Whereas the necessity for distinctive and momentary measures might come up in occasions of disaster, there’s a want for clear communication and data on the concrete results of any exceptions on the bottom. As well as, it’s important to make sure that any distinctive association doesn’t last more than vital and doesn’t put meals security and shopper well being in danger, ”in response to BEUC.
BEUC added that in occasions of disaster, rogue merchants could also be tempted to chop corners and the danger of meals fraud might improve, particularly if management methods are disrupted. The group mentioned the contingency plan ought to take note of the danger of meals fraud and food-related scams that prey on the elevated vulnerability of shoppers.
Be versatile and go digital
Some member states agreed on momentary flexibility round EU laws on meals labeling, aside from points associated to meals security, reminiscent of data on allergens. The Fee is permitting digital copies of unique certificates and nations perform distant official controls because of the pandemic, however because it stands now, that is solely till February.
EuroCommerce, which represents the retail and wholesale sector, supported flexibility in the course of the disaster citing the frequency of bodily meals security checks and elevated digitization of administrative processes, together with meals security audits and checks.
“Whereas we proceed to assist efficient management methods to take care of vital requirements and preserve shoppers secure, it’s our opinion that this flexibility has labored properly, primarily because of steady risk-based management of meals companies. As such, it needs to be an goal to maintain administrative burdens as little as attainable additionally after the disaster ”, in response to EuroCommerce /
Customs might need to take care of fewer employees because of containment measures and hygiene protocols. One resolution could possibly be using scanned copies or digital sanitary and phytosanitary certificates (SPS), in response to FoodDrinkEurope, which represents the meals and beverage business.
CELCAA, the European agri-food commerce affiliation, mentioned the regulation on meals controls permits coordination between member states and the Fee in case of meals security issues.
“CELCAA would additionally combine meals security into the scope of the plan, with a view to promote the adoption of digital processes reminiscent of digital certificates and others as a software to facilitate the motion of agri-food and agri-food merchandise – thus contributing to meals security.”
Eucolait, the EU’s affiliation for commerce in dairy merchandise, mentioned key elements of the EU’s meals security system, reminiscent of official controls regulation and the TRACES system, appeared to have labored properly. Nevertheless, elevated sources to allow a transfer in the direction of digital certification and digitization usually will create a extra environment friendly surroundings for operators sooner or later.
Freshfel and the European Sprouted Seeds Affiliation mentioned that the Fee should acknowledge the variety of occasions that may happen within the agri-food sector, reminiscent of crises associated to human well being, meals hygiene and meals fraud crises. The teams recommended appointing an EU Meals Disaster Prevention and Administration Coordinator.
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