European legislation concerning food safety should change

IN JANUARY 2013 media all over Europe reported cases of the appearance of horsemeat in beef-based food products. The Slovak Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) confirmed that horse DNA was present in Lasagne Bolognese Nowaco, a food product sold in Slovakia, even though the information on its label states that it contains only beef. The supplier of the product has already withdrawn it from shops and cafeterias, the TASR newswire reported in the beginning of March.

IN JANUARY 2013 media all over Europe reported cases of the appearance of horsemeat in beef-based food products. The Slovak Public Health Authority (ÚVZ) confirmed that horse DNA was present in Lasagne Bolognese Nowaco, a food product sold in Slovakia, even though the information on its label states that it contains only beef. The supplier of the product has already withdrawn it from shops and cafeterias, the TASR newswire reported in the beginning of March.

In an effort to ease fears in the member states about the situation, European Union authorities ordered the national veterinary and food inspection offices to impose higher fines on companies which profit from producing suspicious food. Moreover, the EU has introduced a plan to create a register of dishonest food producers, the Pravda daily reported on March 16.

In addition to this, the EU wants to make the current control mechanisms more efficient in order to prevent the increasing frequency of food scandals, Pravda wrote.

Since the Agriculture Ministry has already started working on its own system of publishing the names of dishonest businesspeople, it welcomes the activities of the EU, spokesperson for the ministry Peter Hajnala told The Slovak Spectator. He added that the ministry has already made several fundamental changes, like making the system of official control stricter and more effective. Yet, he stressed that it is necessary to “realise these changes in all countries of the EU broadly and equally”.

The Food Chamber of Slovakia (PKS) does not have a problem with stricter and improved control, but will surely oppose measures that will “transpose the financing of official inspection to business entities or which will administratively burden them”, said Daniel Poturnay, head of PKS. He explained to The Slovak Spectator that further burdening of businesses in the food sector might have serious consequences on small and medium-sized companies, which any EU member state cannot afford.

When it comes to the possible creation of a register of dishonest food producers, Poturnay said he would surely agree with publishing the names of deliberately murky businesses, such as the one that combined horsemeat with beef.

“Yet, I am afraid that such a blacklist can very easily become a tool of competitive fighting,” Poturnay added.

Related article: Food inspectors to wield bigger stick

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