March 31, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Food poisoning in the EU – an accident or a pattern

Before the scandal over Kinder chocolate had subsided, a new source of dangerous poisoning was revealed – Buitoni pizza. Who is to blame – the authorities or the producers? And this is not a rhetorical question.

Another scandal over food quality erupted after a complaint filed in France: because of the use of Buitoni pizza, E. coli poisoning occurred. And this is against the backdrop of 150 Salmonella infections after Kinder detected in nine EU member states just a few weeks ago!

Undoubtedly, the appearance of low-quality products on the market is, first of all, an oversight of manufacturers. However, the possibility of such an incident reveals the shortcomings of the European food safety system, which is considered one of the most reliable in the world. Camille Perrin, a spokesman for the European consumer protection organization, puts some blame on the national health inspectorates:

“Three years ago we published a report pointing to an alarming reduction in resources for official quality control. There is less money and less staff from the health services for this. This, in the end, can lead to such scandals. Because if manufacturers are simply left to their own devices, if we rely entirely on their self-tests, then we run the risk of overlooking some “inconsistencies”.

In less than twenty years, the number of inspectors has fallen in Spain by 7%, in Belgium by 10% and in France by a record 30%. And this does not seem to go unnoticed – for several years the European Parliament has been calling for a law to strengthen these services.

Eric Andrier, a French Social Democrat, is convinced that it is unacceptable to rely too much on the private sector to protect citizens from poisoning:

No. Today we can say that we produce the best food in the world, and it’s true. But when I say no, I mean that it is unacceptable to trust food companies to control their own products. The European Parliament has made little progress on this. It is necessary to adopt such laws so that the protection of public health is 100% guaranteed by the states at the union level.

As a commentary on the two cases of infection, a statement from the European Confederation of Food and Drink Manufacturers followed:

This question should be addressed to interested companies. For us, the highest food safety standards are a priority. We continue to work on this with the European Commission, supply chain partners and other stakeholders.

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