From farm to fork: strengthening food checks in Europe 


Consumers are entitled to know that the food they buy and eat is safe, however food fraud cases such as the 2013 horsemeat scandal show that is not always the case.

On Wednesday 15 March MEPs adopted new rules to tighten up official inspections throughout the food chain. We talked to Austrian S&D member Karin Kadenbach, the MEP responsible for steering the proposal through Parliament, about the benefits of the new legislation.

Food fraud


Food fraud has been a problem for many years: it could involve anything from selling battery-caged eggs as organic to farmed fish being touted freshly caught.

One notorious example is the horsemeat scandal that hit the EU in 2013 when food advertised as containing beef was found to contain horsemeat. Many EU countries were affected. The scandal was a matter of food fraud rather than food safety, but it did raise questions about the effectiveness of controls along the food supply chain.

Karin Kadenbach, the MEP responsible for steering the new rules through Parliament, said: “Of course this law aims to prevent such scandals, but it goes even further: Europeans have a right to the best possible health, so do animals and vegetation. And that’s why we need strict, good controls all over Europe.”

How new rules could make a difference

The new legislation aims to improve food traceability, combat food fraud and restore consumer trust in the integrity of the food chain. This includes setting up a comprehensive and more effective control system along the whole food chain, including controls on food, feed, plant health, pesticides, animal welfare, organic production, protected geographical indications and regular unannounced, risk-based controls in all sectors. The new rules would also allow authorities to react faster in crisis situations. There would be the same and stricter penalities for fraudsters across the EU. The new rules also aim to improve the health and welfare of animals.


Food for thought 
  • Europe's food industry is worth €750 billion a year 
  • Agri-food industry is the EU’s second biggest industrial sector, employing 48 million workers  

Read our overview explaining how the EU improves public health.