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CONSUMER POLICY: PARLIAMENT DEMANDS DEROGATIONS ON FOOD HYGIENE.

Through a range of largely technical amendments, MEPs argue that food business operators should also adopt specific hygiene measures and should annually undergo training by experts concerning aspects of food hygiene. This training should also cover legislation on the protection of health and prevention of infection.One of the key amendments adopted demands that exceptions be made for traditional products such as local specialities. From the point of view of public health, MEPs felt it was not necessary to require an exhaustive training programme concerning the hygiene of wild game and pathology for all seven million hunters in the EU, as had been proposed. Parliament also considered that the regulation should not apply to private use or the preparation of game meat for private use and to direct supplies of small quantities of wild game and game meat to the final consumer or to local retail trade outlets. MEPs felt that where game and game meat were supplied directly by a hunter to the consumer or a retailer, this should be classified as traditional food production, for which special methods of marketing exist and to which sufficient flexibility should apply.This desire for flexibility was applauded by David Byrne, the Commissioner responsible for Consumer Protection and Health. He was pleased that Parliament had broadly followed the Commission's recommendations, to the extent, as he pointed out, that "across the European Union there are a multitude of cultural traditions regarding foodstuffs and local specialities which I feel must be preserved".--The European Commission's proposals on food hygiene come in the context of the overhaul of Community legislation on food hygiene rules, the issue of policing the safety of foods of animal origin, and official controls on foods of animal origin. According to these proposals, all players in the food chain should bear primary responsibility for food safety. The new Regulations will merge, harmonise and simplify the minute and complex prescriptions previously spread across 17 food hygiene Directives. The regulations are innovative to the extent that they provide for application to all foodstuffs and to all operators in the food chain (from farm to fork) in a single and transparent policy on hygiene. They also contain effective instruments to guarantee food safety and manage any future food crises. Emphasis is placed on the definition of objectives, leaving enterprises scope to opt for and adopt safety measures, instead of prescribing these in the minutest detail.The draft Regulation on food of animal origin (meat and meat-based processed products, fish and dairy products) introduces greater flexibility than the current legislation, which in many respects is highly detailed and normative. The long-term aim is to permit further simplification through the application of the HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) system. Provision is also made for new proposals to reduce the contamination of carcasses in abattoirs, a number of detailed provisions being maintained, given the specific risks that exist in this area.--

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Title Annotation:European Parliament
Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EU
Date:May 18, 2002
Words:485
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Next Article:RESEARCH: EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES SIXTH FRAMEWORK COMPROMISE.
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