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EU Wants Higher Fines on Food Fraud
The European Commission is proposing that fines for food fraud cases should be punished with tougher financial penalties in response to the horse meat scandal. An increase in unannounced inspections by member states has also been called for as a package of measures aimed at improving Europe’s food chain. Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said “Crime must not pay, but if penalties are low it does pay. Restoring the trust and confidence of our citizens and trading partners is key given that the agri-food industry is the second largest economic sector in the EU.” Penalties for the type of labeling fraud seen in the horse meat affair vary amongst member states. In the UK a conviction can carry a prison sentence of up to two years while in France the maximum penalty is a fine of 187,000 euros.
Changes have also been called for in the scale of EU food chain legislation reducing the number of statutes from 70 down to five. Currently the EC can only ask member states to conduct tests and controls on potential areas of food fraud in future this could become mandatory. The proposals now need to be approved by the European Parliament and the European Council. Measures are then likely to come into force in 2016.