Tag Archives: Food product

Green Paper on agricultural product quality

Green Paper on agricultural product quality

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on agricultural product quality

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Food safety > Food safety: general provisions

Green Paper on agricultural product quality

The aim of this consultation is to ensure a strategic and regulatory framework for the protection of agricultural products and to promote their quality. In this respect, the Commission intends to open a wide discussion on the existing instruments, on how they could be improved and on new initiatives which could be considered. Three areas are being reviewed: farming requirements and marketing standards, existing quality schemes and certification schemes.

Document or Iniciative

Green Paper of 15 October 2008 on agricultural product quality [COM(2008) 641 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Quality is the European farmers’ most potent weapon in facing competition from emerging countries. In Europe the quality of agricultural products rests on the highest levels of safety guaranteed by Community legislation throughout the whole of the food chain and on other aspects (methods and location of production, etc.).

Quality issues related to food safety which are already covered by other Community actions on nutritional labelling or animal welfare do not form part of this consultation.

Production requirements and marketing standards

Food produced in the European Union (EU) adheres to a range of farming requirements. The aim of these requirements is to ensure that all products placed on the market comply with hygiene and safety standards and also respond to a number of environmental, ethical, social, etc. concerns. Many of these farming requirements -those not referring to product hygiene and safety – do not necessarily apply in respect of imported foodstuffs. However, European consumers cannot distinguish between products which adhere to these standards and those which do not. In order to better inform consumers, it is important to ask stakeholders about the possibility of creating a symbol which indicates that a product has been produced in compliance with certain production rules or on the need to indicate the place of production (EU/Non-EU) of primary products.

European marketing standards replace the different national standards. Their aim is to help farmers to offer quality products which meet consumer expectations and facilitate price comparison fordifferent qualities of product. For the majority of agricultural products, they will take the form of regulations that lay down definitions of products, minimum product standards, product categories and labelling requirements. As part of the consultation, stakeholders are asked about the need to define and impose compulsory elements (farming requirements, quality classifications, etc.), reserved terms (term ‘farmhouse’, ‘mountain product’) at the European level and on the need to simplify the current marketing standards.

European quality schemes

The system of geographical indications ensures the protection of intellectual property. This system includes Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) which describe the characteristics (PDO) or the reputation (PGI) of a product which are connected to their geographical area of origin. For consumers, geographical indications guarantee authentic, quality products which meet their expectations. To benefit from a PDO, all stages of production should, in principle, have taken place in the geographical area of origin. In the case of a PGI only one stage of production will suffice (this is the case with spirits in particular). The Green Paper aims to identify the necessary means to improve and develop the system of geographical indications as well as to protect this system in third countries.

The system of Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG) was created in 1992. The TSGs are agricultural products or foodstuffs that have traditional composition or that are produced using traditional raw materials or traditional methods of production. Since its creation, only 20 TSGs have been registered under this system. This relatively low number raises the question whether a better means of identifying and promoting traditional specialities exists.

Since the adoption of Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 on the production and labelling of organic products, the main challenge has been to create an internal market for organic food. At present the market for organic food functions essentially along national lines. It is important, therefore, to consider possibilities which would enable the creation of a genuine single market for organic food at the EU level.

The system aimed at promoting quality products originating from the outermost regions rests on the introduction of a logo. To obtain this logo, producers must adhere to a number of requirements defined in compliance with Community regulations or in their absence, international regulations. To what extent could trade organisations, following the example of Spain and France, adopt additional specific requirements aimed at improving the quality of regional products and increasing the volume of quality agricultural products originating from the outermost regions of the EU?

Should other systems emerge, for example to identify products of ‘high-nature value’ or ‘mountain’ products?

Quality certification schemes

For consumers, food quality certification schemes offer additional guarantees that the label claim can be relied on. These schemes concern not only compliance with compulsory production standards, but also requirements such as environmental protection, animal welfare, fair trade, religious or cultural considerations, farming methods, product origin, etc. These requirements have led to a multitude of certification schemes and quality labels which sometimes give rise to concerns about the transparency of the requirements of the systems in question, the reliability of the claims and the fairness of commercial relations. The Green Paper opens the debate on how to protect the consumer and avoid additional constraints and costs for producers.

Context

The Commission invites all organisations and citizens who have an interest in the quality of agricultural products to submit their contributions before 31 December 2008. These contributions will form a basis for developing a Communication (Commission document establishing strategic guidelines) which should be published in May 2009.

Ceramic objects in contact with foodstuffs

Ceramic objects in contact with foodstuffs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Ceramic objects in contact with foodstuffs

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Food safety > Contamination and environmental factors

Ceramic objects in contact with foodstuffs

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 84/500/EEC of 15 October 1984 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to ceramic articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs [See amending acts].

Summary

Ceramic objects used to contain foodstuffs may transfer lead and cadmium to these foodstuffs. These two metals are toxic and can constitute a risk to human health.

The Directive lays down maximum limits for the cadmium and lead transferred by ceramic objects to the foodstuffs with which they enter into contact.

Declaration of conformity

To be sold, these ceramics must be accompanied by a written declaration provided by the manufacturer or importer, guaranteeing that they do not exceed the maximum limits for lead and cadmium. The information required is described in Annex II (introduced by Directive 2005/31/EC).

The declaration was introduced to meet the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food (Directive 84/500/EEC is a measure specific to the groups of materials and objects listed in Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004).

The maximum limits for lead and cadmium must be checked by means of a test and a method of analysis (Annex III, introduced by Directive 2005/31/EC).

These methods take into account the very latest scientific progress in methods of analysis for official tests of lead and cadmium in foodstuffs, in accordance with Directive 2001/22/EC (see the Associated Acts heading below).

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 84/500/EEC 17.10.1984 OJ L 277 of 20.10.1984; corrigenda: OJ L 114 of 27.04.1989 and OJ L 181 of 28.06.1989.
Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Directive 2005/31/EC 21.05.2005 20.05.2006
20.05.2007 (Ban on the production and import of products that do not meet the criteria)
OJ L 110 of 30.04.2005

Related Acts

Commission Regulation (EC) No 333/2007 of 28 March 2007 laying down the methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of the levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, inorganic tin, 3-MCPD and benzo(a)pyrene in foodstuffs [Official Journal L 88 of 29.3.2007].