European Commission releases annual report on RASFF

Published 30 June 2006

The annual report on food safety in the European Union show that notifications of possible food risks have rose 22 percent; this may seem alarming to some, but in the EU, it seems to just show that more people are following food safety rules, and that new member states have become stricter at borders and during food inspections

A rise in food security and safety notifications may sound like a bad thing, but in the European Union, is very much the opposite. The European Commission presented their annual report of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) today. The RASFF is a tool used to quickly exchange information between Member States and the Commission on identified risks to the food and feed chain. The findings of the report show that notifications of food safety concerns rose 22 percent higher in 2005 than in the year prior. Last year notifications of food and feed risks totaled 3,158, compared to 2,588 in 2004. These notifications of possible risks posed to the food and feed chain at first glance seem worrisome, however, the report points to other factors which may have contributed to the spike in warnings. Likely reasons for the rise in the number of notifications are the expansion of the EU, adherence to the governing laws of the union, population changes and growth which causes more food to be shipped in by third party countries, and improved controls in the new Member States. The number of notifications has risen each year, indicating that more EU countries are focusing on the health risks posed to the consumer.

Markos Kyprianou, commissioner for health and consumer protection explains the basis for RASFF and how it is better protecting the European consumer:

EU food safety legislation is among the strictest in the world, and the primary goal is to ensure that all food and feed destined for the EU market meets the high standards we set in terms of safety and quality. However, there are occasions when a product falls below these standards, and threatens the health and safety of consumers. This is where stringent controls and effective information exchange come into play. The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed serves as an important reassurance to citizens that if a problem does occur in the food chain, it can be swiftly addressed, thus minimising any potential risk to the consumer.