european commission (14)

5017229654?profile=RESIZE_400xThe European Parliament and Council agreed to review and strengthen the existing marketing standards applicable to honey, fruit juices, jams and milk. The so-called Breakfast Directives lay down common rules on the composition, sales names, labelling and presentation of these products to ensure their free movement within the internal market and help consumers make informed choices.

The revised Directives agreed upon by the co-legislators will introduce the following changes:

  • Mandatory origin labelling for honey:  the countries of origin in honey blends will have to appear on the label in descending order with the percentage share of each origin. Member States will have the flexibility to require percentages for the four largest shares only when they account for more than 50% of the blend. The Commission is empowered by the co-legislators to introduce harmonised methods of analysis to detect honey adulteration with sugar, a uniform methodology to trace the origin of honey and criteria to ascertain that honey is not overheated when sold to the final consumer. A Platform will be set up to advise the Commission on those matters. This will limit fraudulent practices and increase the transparency of the food chain.
  • Innovation and market opportunities for fruit juices in line with new consumers demands: Three new categories will become available: ‘reduced-sugar fruit juice‘, ‘reduced-sugar fruit juice from concentrate‘ and ‘concentrated reduced-sugar fruit juice‘. This way consumers can choose a juice with at least 30% less sugars. It will be possible for fruit juices to indicate on their labels that “fruit juices contain only naturally occurring sugars” to clarify that, contrary to fruit nectars, fruit juices cannot by definition contain added sugars – a feature that most of the consumers are not aware of.
  • Higher mandatory fruit content in jams: an increase of the minimum fruit content in jams (from 350 to 450 grams per kilo) and in extra-jams (from 450 to 500 grams per kilo) will improve the minimum quality and reduce the sugar content of these products for EU consumers. Member States will be allowed to authorise the term ‘marmalade' as a synonym of ‘jam', to take into account of the name commonly used locally for these products. The term “marmalade” was authorised until now only for citrus jams.
  • Simplified labelling for milk: the distinction between ‘evaporated' and ‘condensed' milk will be removed, in line with the Codex Alimentarius standard. Lactose-free dehydrated milk will also be authorised.

The political agreement reached by the European Parliament, Council and Commission is now subject to formal approval by the co-legislators. From entry into force 20 days after publication of the final text, Member States will have 18 months to transpose the new provisions into national law and 6 more months before it applies throughout the European Union.

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12368336463?profile=RESIZE_400xThe European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published guidance on the selection and use of DNA extraction methods.

Extracting DNA of suitable quality and quantity from a test sample is a fundamental upstream step that underpins the confidence in a number of downstream analytical molecular biology based methods (e.g., qPCR. dPCR, NGS, etc.,).

This official guidance document provides advice on the selection and use of fit for purpose DNA extraction methods. Whilst this guidance uses the example of DNA extraction in the context of official controls for the analysis of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the principles it describes are universally applicable to all DNA based methods including those for food authenticity.

Advice is provided on the selection of different protocols and decision support systems, and guidance provided on validation approaches and the assessment of DNA quality parameters, further illustrated with practical examples/solutions based on extensive collective experiences.

Access guidance: DOI: 10.2760/76162 (online)

This guidance has also been added to the Quality section of this website.

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12365337854?profile=RESIZE_584xThe Food Integrity Unit of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), is looking for laboratories with expertise in beeswax analyses, interested in participating in a method validation study by inter-laboratory comparison according to ISO 5725-2.                                                                
The goal is to evaluate repeatability and reproducibility of the gas chromatography based analytical method for quantifying paraffin n-alkanes respectively stearin/stearic acid in beeswax with the aim to identify potential adulteration of beeswax.                                                                                         
The participants will receive a set of beeswax test samples, the detailed analytical protocol of the method, and the necessary consumables, free of charge.                                                                   
If you interested in being part of this important project that will lead to the future standardisation of the method by an international standardisation organization, please contact: 

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11001991485?profile=RESIZE_710xToday, the European Commission has published the results of the EU-wide coordinated action “From the Hives” on honey contaminated with sugars.

These investigations aimed to put a stop to operators voluntarily placing contaminated honey onto the EU market and sanction them accordingly if needed. Of the 320 samples taken at EU borders and analysed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), 147 (46%) were suspected of being non-compliant.

This suspicion rate was considerably higher in comparison to an earlier EU-wide coordinated control plan conducted in 2015-17, where 14% of the analysed samples did not comply with established benchmark criteria to assess honey authenticity.

However, the JRC applied a different set of methods, with improved detection capability, throughout the current exercise, which may explain this contrast.

For more information:

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9546213456?profile=RESIZE_400x 2020 Annual Food Fraud report: Fight against food fraud in Europe continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic 

Today, the European Commission has published the 2020 annual report of the EU Agri-Food Fraud Network (EU FFN) and the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation system for Food Fraud (AAC-FF).

In five years, the number of cases created per year has more than doubled, going from 157 in 2016 to 349 in 2020. The increased interaction between Member States within the EU Agri-Food Fraud Network has shown that fight against food fraud in Europe is tightening up. Sharing information on suspected cross-border fraud violations has proven to be essential in better identifying, investigating and protecting EU customers against illegal practices.

The EU FFN also works with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in joint actions targeting counterfeited foodstuff. In 2020, members of the network were also engaged in OPSON - a joint Europol/Interpol initiative targeting trafficking in fake and substandard food and beverages and operation LAKE, which focused on the trafficking of the protected European eel (Anguilla Anguilla) species.

More information on the EU FFN can be found here.

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JRC March 2021 Food Fraud Monthly Summary


The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its March 2021 Food Fraud Monthly Summary reporting food fraud incidents and investigations from around the world. 

Thanks again to our Member Bruno Séchet for creating this infographic and allowing us to share it with the rest of the Network

Read the March 2021 Summary here

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The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has published its February 2021 Food Fraud Monthly Summary reporting food fraud incidents and investigations from around the world. 

Thanks again to our Member Bruno Séchet for creating this  infographic and allowing us to share it with the rest of the Network

Read the February 2021 Summary here

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Genome editing techniques that modify the DNA of plants do not pose more hazards than conventional breeding or techniques that introduce new DNA into a plant, an EFSA assessment concludes.

The scientific opinion focuses on plants produced using different genome editing techniques: site-directed nuclease-1 (SDN-1), site-directed nuclease-2 techniques (SDN-2) and oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis (ODM). These differ from site-directed nucleases-3 (SDN-3), which was assessed by EFSA in 2012, because they modify a specific region of the genome without introducing new DNA.

Experts concluded that the existing guidance for risk assessment of genetically modified plants is applicable for the evaluation of the three new techniques. However, fewer data for the risk assessment might be needed due to the absence of new DNA.

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5327452655?profile=RESIZE_400xAfter several months of consultation the European Commission has adopted and published on 20 May its ambitious "Farm to Fork Strategy" aiming to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly. It is made up of 27 actions that will aim to make the European food system a global standard for sustainability. In terms of concrete targets, the Commission proposed an ambitious 50% cut for the use and risk of pesticides, as well as a 50% reduction of highly hazardous pesticides, a 20% cut in fertiliser use and a 50% reduction of antibiotic use in farming and aquaculture, all by 2030 and compared to the EU’s current level. It is also planned to address the issue of food loss and waste, step up the fight against food fraud and strengthen EU animal welfare rules, as well as provide clear information and empower consumers to make healthy and sustainable choices thanks to an EU-wide mandatory food labelling.

Read the article or the full EU Food to Farm Strategy and associated documents


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On 11 August, the environmental protection service of the Spanish civil guard SEPRONA announced the seizure of 45 tons of illegally treated tuna fish. Four people were investigated and face possible criminal penalties of up to four years in prison for endangering public health, as well as administrative sanctions. The investigation has so far uncovered three companies and three fishing vessels involved in the fraudulent scheme.

Investigators found that frozen tuna only suitable for canning had been illegally treated with substances that enhance the colour and then been diverted to the market to be sold as fresh fish. This treatment can pose a serious public health risk associated with allergic reactions to histamine.

The investigation was coordinated by EUROPOL under the OPSON VII operation, in collaboration with the European Commission and other Member States, which was previously reported on the Food Authenticity Network in May 2018.

Criminal investigations are ongoing.

For more information on this case including the European Commission's contribution and information on other successful outcomes for EU coordinated cases.

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Under the Horizon Europe programme, which focuses on the future funding of food and agriculture research by the European Commission, investment in food research and innovation will see an increase. The Commission has earmarked €10 billion for the food sector, with an emphasis on food safety, which has €1.68 billion confirmed. This embraces quite a wide area of research which could include the safety issues arising out of food fraud.

Read more about the programme on FoodNavigator.

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The European Commission has  released its report concerning the Fitness Check on General Food Law (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002)

The main findings were:

  • The General Food Law Regulation is still relevant today with respect to the current trends: growth and competitiveness and increased globalisation. Nevertheless, it is less adequate to address new challenges like food sustainability in general, and more specifically, food waste;
  • Overall, the General Food Law Regulation has achieved its core objectives, namely high protection of human health and consumers' interests and the smooth functioning of the internal market;
  • No systemic failures have been identified;
  • Current food safety levels are more favourable than before the adoption of the General Food Law Regulation (e.g. food largely free of pesticide residues and of veterinary medicinal product residues or below the EU legal limits, re-evaluation programmes of existing authorised substances in place etc.);
  • The systematic implementation of the risk analysis principle in EU food law has overall raised the level of protection of public health;
  • The creation of EFSA has improved the scientific basis of EU measures. Major improvements in increasing EFSA's scientific capacity of expertise, the quality of its scientific outputs, its collection of scientific data and in the development and harmonisation of risk assessment methodologies have taken place;
  • Better traceability of food and feed in the entire agri-food chain;
  • Better transparency of the EU decision-making cycle;
  • EU emergency measures and existing crisis management arrangements have overall achieved consumer health protection and the efficient management and containment of food safety incidents. Nevertheless, the 2011 E.coli outbreak in sprouts in Germany has high-lightened the need to continuously re-evaluate the management of food crises;
  • The General Food Law Regulation has contributed to the effective functioning of the internal market by creating a level playing field for all feed and food business operators in the EU market and reducing disruptions of trade where problems have occurred. The value of the EU internal trade in the food and drink sector has increased by 72% over the past decade. It has also contributed to the EU product safety recognition worldwide and to an improved quality perception for EU products in non-EU markets. The EU food and drink industry has achieved a more globally competitive position since 2003 vis-à-vis the main trading partners.

Nevertheless, certain shortcomings have been identified:

  • There are still national differences in the implementation and enforcement of the EU legislative framework; however, these are not systematic but occur rather on a case-by-case basis;
  • Despite overall considerable progress, transparency of risk analysis remains an important issue in terms of perception:
    • As regards risk assessment in the context of authorisation dossiers, EFSA is bound by strict confidentiality rules and by the legal requirement to primarily base its assessment on industry studies, laid down in the GFL Regulation and in the multiple authorisation procedures in specific EU food legislation. These elements lead civil society to perceive a certain lack of transparency and independence, having a negative impact on the acceptability of EFSA's scientific work by the general public. There is therefore a need to address these issues in order to protect the reputation of EFSA's work;
    • Risk communication has not always been effective with a negative impact on consumers' trust and on the acceptability of risk management decisions;
  • A number of negative signals have been identified on the capacity of EFSA to maintain a high level of scientific expertise and to fully engage all MS in scientific cooperation;
  • Lengthy authorisation procedures in some sectors (e.g. feed additives, plant protection products, food improvement agents, novel foods, health claims) slow down the market entry process.

Read full report

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The European Commission has published a Consumer Market Scoreboard in September 2016, which scores consumer assessment of services and goods including food across the EU. Many foods such as non-alcoholic drinks, bread, cereals and pasta in fast moving markets have lost ground to other goods. The meat sector has still not recovered since 2013, and comes just above second hand car sales.

Read the report at:


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