Trade Resources Company News European Commission Introduces It Tool to Monitor Cross-Border Food Supply Chain Frauds

European Commission Introduces It Tool to Monitor Cross-Border Food Supply Chain Frauds

Tags: FFN, horsemeat, beef

The European Commission has introduced a dedicated IT tool called the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation (AAC) to keep a tab on possible cross-border food supply chain violations of administrative information between national authorities in Europe.

Following the horsemeat scandal of 2013, the Commission has developed a plan to fortify controls on the food supply chain. Among the measures that the agency hoped to set up included a mechanism to ensure quick exchange of information between national authorities and the Commission in suspected food fraud cases.

The Commission set up European Food Fraud Network (FFN) aimed at handling cross-border food fraud cases. Each Member State has a contact member in other member states to handle requests, thus forming a network. Since July 2013, the network has been operational and has observed a significant increase in the number of information exchanges from 30 in 2013 to 90 in 2015 until now. The number adds up to 180 cases in total since its inception.

Cross border cooperation helps the national authorities to improve prevent and detect violations of EU food chain regulations and also helps gather information necessary for further investigation in any case in order to take appropriate action.

The AAC will oversee that the Food Fraud Network functions more efficiently and would ensure that it responds to requests more quickly. Initially, AAC will be used in the first phase of Food Fraud Network. Later on, it will be made available to other associated bodies which will be working on cases of AAC that are not related to unethical practices.

A 2014 FFN report reveals that many of the suspected frauds are linked to mislabeling, fraudulent certification, documents and replacement of higher value specifics with lower valued ones.

However, the agency says that conclusions cannot be drawn from the data given that Member States could also exchange information beyond FFN. The EC also points out that information which is totally occurs at national level or cases which do not have cross-border dimension, may not be exchanged through the FFN.

The 2013 horsemeat scandal which saw horse meat being marketed as beef put the entire food supply chain on high alert. Subsequent investigation revealed that the scandal was not a result of improper food safety and public health practices, but rather fraudulent labeling in order to make more monetary gains.

The European Commission noted that the fraudsters were capitalizing on the loopholes in the system which was to damaging the legitimate businesses and consumers. The European food processing industry had hit an all-time low in terms of consumer confidence and business.

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