Adulteration, counterfeiting and deliberate mislabelling of food products pose a risk for our health, especially when allergenic or even toxic ingredients of unknown origin are used to replace more expensive ingredients. A clear label indicating the origin of ingredients helps preventing and tackling food scandals that endanger public health.
In Europe, food frauds are estimated to create damages up to 12 billion € per year, and the phenomenon has intensified in the last decades. The mandatory indication of origin on food labels helps preventing falsifications and unfair commercial practices that damage the single market as well as the national economies.
EU citizens have the right to be protected and to receive accurate information about the food they choose to purchase. In order to make informed choices, consumers need to know where the products are harvested and transformed, the origin of ingredients and more information about production and processing methods.
The primary goal of food labelling is to provide consumers with coherent and transparent information to enable them to make informed choices. Consumer’s demand for information on the place of origin of food is becoming increasingly important but under current regulation there is significant potential for consumers to be misled and exposed to food frauds.
At this stage, the origin must always be labelled for the following foods: honey; olive oil; fresh fruit and vegetables; fish; beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat (fresh, chilled or frozen). For all other foods, origin labelling is only voluntary. Therefore, origin information is largely missing on many foods such as meat products, milk, dairy products, unprocessed foods and single-ingredient products (e.g. flour or sugar).
A complete indication of the country of origin of food increases the transparency of the product, and can be a useful tool to prevent food fraud. For this reason, we call on the European Commission to make the indication of the country of origin mandatory for all processed and unprocessed foods circulating in EU, and to introduce more strict traceability requirements under harmonised criteria in order to strengthen food safety and transparency throughout the food supply chain.
The full text of the petition has been published on the official register of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/citizens-initiative/public/initiatives/open
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