Foodwatch calls for action to ensure EU food safety during COVID-19 crisis
Campaign group Foodwatch has sent a letter to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety expressing concerns about food safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foodwatch, a non-profit campaigning organisation that fights for safe, healthy and affordable food for all people, has called on the European Commission to ensure that food safety and consumer protection are not compromised during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Foodwatch has written to Commissioner Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, to express its concern about the publication of the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/466 of 30 March 2020. The regulation implements temporary measures to contain risks to human, animal and plant health and animal welfare during certain serious disruptions of member states’ control systems due to COVID-19.
The letter urged that the crisis must not be used to lower food safety standards in the EU, and that, in fact, this is the time to tighten implementation of EU food law.
It claimed that the European Commission seems to be going in the “opposite direction”, reducing safety checks and allowing incorrect product labelling.
Foodwatch recommended that, in order to learn and move on from this crisis, the EU must strengthen surveillance and network more intelligently to ensure full transparency for both the food industry and the public.
The letter acknowledged the fact that food has not been identified as a means of transmission of COVID-19, but stressed that existing foodborne illnesses must be prevented more than ever in order to reduce the health risks presented by the virus. “Citizens with a weakened immune system can be even more vulnerable to further infection,” the letter read.
“We are calling on you to urgently ensure that EU citizens are not more exposed to further health risks and fraudulent behaviour during this crisis. We ask you to be vigilant in your response to the food industry in the full realisation that it is the public authorities that in the end will carry the responsibility for food that goes unchecked and scandals which can ensue. In addition, we ask you to make public on the website the applications from member states for temporary measures allowed in this Regulation,” it concluded.