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MEPs call for better consumer and farmer protection in wake of German dioxin scandal

MEPs have called on the EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, to fully investigate the German dioxin scandal, look into improved traceability and quality controls of animal feed and processed food and discuss compensation for farmers disproportionately affected by the food scare.

In a debate initiated by the Liberal and Democrat Group (ALDE) in the European Parliament, Commissioner Dalli stated that there was no immediate health risk for consumers thanks to the EU traceability system already in place.

However, he stressed the need to ensure that national control systems work effectively and welcomed Germany’s cooperation for a visit by veterinary staff to assess the situation.

He also called for a strict segregation between industrial fats and animal feed fats.

Commenting on the Commissioner’s statement, ALDE MEP Corinne Lepage (Cap21, France) said that “The German dioxin incident is an unacceptable scandal which seriously shatters consumer confidence. The health of consumers cannot be relegated to second place in a system that gives precedence to reducing costs of agricultural products at any price. We ask the Commission to take action to guarantee that such behaviour does not go unpunished”.

According to the ALDE MEP, the Commission also needs to look at measures to improve control mechanisms in Member States. “It cannot be that the industry is left to control itself”, he added.

Pointing to the criminal intent behind the company responsible for the dioxin scandal, ALDE MEP Britta Reimers (FDP, Germany) said that “No matter how strict the rules, no matter how severe the sanctions, there will always be criminals disregarding the law. Therefore it is crucial that controls and traceability are properly enforced and compensation systems for farmers in place.”

ALDE MEP George Lyon (UK, Lib Dem) added “Consumers and farmers are the main victims of this scandal. It is vital that the Commission carry out a full investigation along with the German Government to establish exactly what went wrong and why tough European rules, introduced in the wake of BSE, did not prevent another food scare. Consumers need be reassured quickly about the safety of the food chain and address difficulties in tracing all processed products that have been contaminated”.

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