The FBI and the World Customs Institute have dubbed food fraud the crime of the century, earning perpetrators USD 49 billion annually. It was noted recently by Michigan State University that demand for inexpensive food will grow over the coming years and the problem will therefore persist and grow.
A recent Irish study carried out by University College Dublin found that 82 % of fish such as pollock and whiting sold on the Dublin Market was fraudulently mislabelled as other more valuable species such as cod. Furthermore, the October 2011 audit of Irish meat and diary producers by the Food and Veterinary Office found that there had been misleading labelling of products. A product which had been produced and packed in one factory was labelled as coming from a different food business in the UK. Given that agri-food products account for 10 % of Irish exports and 7.7 % of jobs in the national workforce, and add some EUR 24 billion to the national economy, food fraud represents a significant threat to the name and credibility of the sector.
1. The Commission’s actions on this issue are vital to maintaining the excellent reputation which European-produced food enjoys. In this regard, could the Commission outline what measures are in place to tackle food fraud and enforce food legislation on a Union-wide basis?
2. Is the Commission formulating a Union-wide strategy to combat food fraud? Does the Commission have statistics on the level of food fraud detection in the Union?
3. What particular food groups are particularly vulnerable?
4. How does the Commission ensure food imports from outside the Union comply with consumer legislation relating to aspects such as labelling, traceability and nutritional information and how does it guarantee this?