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Parliamentary question - E-008979/2011(ASW)Parliamentary question

Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission

The scope of EU food hygiene rules is limited to manage food safety risks and does not regulate food quality related aspects. Under the definition of ‘fresh meat’ fresh and frozen meat are included alike. The EU food hygiene rules prohibit thawing and refreezing of meat, but only for minced meat, meat preparations and mechanically separated meat[1]. There are requirements for thawing foods[2] and businesses must have a system based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point principles to ensure food safety.

Under EU rules[3] the labelling of food must not be misleading, in particular as to its characteristics, properties and durability. The name of the food must include particulars as to its physical condition or its specific treatment (e.g. frozen or defrosted) if omission of this information could confuse the purchaser. Selling thawed meat labelled as ‘chilled’ could mislead the consumer, so it is not permitted.

The recently agreed regulation on food information[4] acknowledges that freezing and later defrosting of certain foods (especially meat and fishery products) limits the possible further uses and may have an effect on their safety, taste and physical quality. Therefore, the designation ‘defrosted’ must, subject to certain exemptions including the ingredients in the final food, accompany the name of foods which are sold defrosted. The regulation should enter into force by the end of 2011 and apply three years later.

A specific situation regulates poultry meat. The definitions under the relevant marketing standards establish that fresh poultry meat, sold as such, must not have been frozen. In addition, poultry meat preparations sold in fresh condition can only be made of fresh poultry meat precisely to avoid misleading the consumers[5] and the distortion of competition.

OJ C 154 E, 31/05/2012