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EU: Knowledge Centre to boost food quality and step up the fight against food fraud
Brussels, 12 March 2018
European Commission launches Knowledge Centre to boost food quality and step up the fight against food fraud
Responding to consumer concerns about food quality and fraudulent practices concerning food, the European Commission will tomorrow launch a Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality, operated by the Joint Research Centre.
The Knowledge Centre, a network made up of experts in and outside the Commission, will support EU policymakers and national authorities by providing access to, and sharing up-to-date scientific knowledge on food fraud and food quality issues.
Concerns about food fraud and food quality undermine consumer confidence and damage the whole food supply chain in Europe, from farmers to retailers. Recent cases of food fraud included olive oil, wine, honey, fish, dairy products, meat and poultry. In addition, consumers may be exposed to unfair commercial marketing practices, especially regarding food products with significant differences in composition offered in different markets but under a similar package.
TiborNavracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, who is responsible for the Joint Research Centre, will launch the new Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality in Strasbourg in the presence of Vice-President for the Energy Union, Maroš Šefčovič, and Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vêrá Jourová.
Ahead of the launch, Commissioner Navracsics said: "Food is one area where science can very directly and tangibly demonstrate the benefits it brings to citizens. The quality of the food we eat is important to all of us, and because food fraud is a transnational criminal activity, the EU has a clear role to play in the response. The launch of the Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality is an important step. It will help protect the integrity of the EU food chain and safeguard the quality of food products, generating a clear added-value for Europeans."
Commissioner Jourová said: “The Commission takes the issue of food quality and unjustified differentiation very seriously and has already taken a number of concrete steps to tackle the issue. Providing for better scientific evidence is a crucial part of this work. This newly created Knowledge Centre, bringing together experts and knowledge from different locations inside and outside the European Commission, will further contribute to collecting and processing science-based evidence. Its work will also contribute to developing a common testing methodology, which in turn will help us apply and enforce food and consumer protection laws.”
The Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality will:
coordinate market surveillance activities, for example on the composition and sensory properties of food offered under the same packaging and branding on several markets across the EU;
operate an early warning and information system for food fraud, for instance through media monitoring and providing this information to the general public;
link information systems of Member States and the Commission, such as databases describing the composition of certain high value agri-food products such as wine or olive oil;
generate country-specific knowledge; for example by mapping the competencies and laboratory infrastructures in Member States.
The Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality will produce newsletters, interactive maps, databases and regular reports and will make this information publicly accessible. The Knowledge Centre will be fully funded by the European Commission. The size of different expert groups will depend on the subject of its work. The Knowledge Centre will complement the EU Food Fraud Network by providing an interface between science and policy-making.
The launch of the Knowledge Centre marks the opening of an exhibition "Putting Science at the Heart of European Policymaking" at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which charts the work and history of the Joint Research Centre since its creation in 1957.
The food chain in the European Union is legislated by, among others, the General Food Law, the Food Information to Consumerslegislation and the Unfair Commercial Practice directive. It requires the compliance of certain compositional and quality standards of agricultural products.
The Joint Research Centre has long-standing expertise in food science including authenticity research and expertise in developing, applying and validating analytical test methods to detect fraud in the food chain.