The outbreak of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) disease in Germany and other Member States has highlighted the importance of complete traceability and Health and Safety standards in the agriculture and the food chain and how these standards can always be strengthened and improved upon.
The European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) and the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS), ensuring rapid distribution of information, throughout the EU were engaged soon after the scale of the outbreak became apparent yet three weeks into this crisis it is still not confirmed what has caused the outbreak.
Liam Aylward MEP, speaking on the crisis in Strasbourg, has highlighted that the future CAP must be in a position to restore consumer confidence in the EU fruit and vegetable sector and has also called into question the wisdom in opening the EU market up to products produced to lesser standards in trading blocs such as Mercosur.
“European farmers produce food to the highest health and safety levels worldwide, they adhere to the strictest guidelines and standards, yet this outbreak has still occurred within the EU and despite our high standards in relation to traceability there is still no confirmation of the source.”
“It is clear that increased traceability is needed to ensure that this crisis is not repeated. A strong Common Agricultural Policy delivering high health and safety standards and complete traceability is needed in order to address consumer concerns and increase confidence in EU products.”
“This outbreak has shown that even with the EU’s high levels of health and safety and traceability in the food chain, contamination and accidents can occur and vigilance is needed.”
” Given the effect this outbreak has had on consumer confidence, I will be contacting the Commissioner for Trade and the Commissioner for Agriculture to clarify how the European Commission can even contemplate bringing in food from sources such as Mercosur, which cannot guarantee traceability and health and safety standards?”