Exclusive video interview

EU food regulations ‘too trusting’: DEFRA boss

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

The European system of food regulation is “too trusting”, environment secretary Owen Paterson told FoodManufacture.co.uk in the second part of our exclusive video interview.

“My fear of the current European system of regulation of food is that it is too trusting and too dependent on paperwork,” ​said Paterson in a wide-ranging interview covering subjects as diverse as the aftermath of the horsemeat crisis and campylobacter food poisoning.

“I’ve said all along, in meetings with the relevant countries and the relevant commissioners, we need to see more risk-based targeted testing and more random testing,”​ he added.

‘Not good enough to take on trust’

Paterson said it was not good enough to take on trust that “the manifest and the paperwork guarantees that what’s in the pallet is correct”.

Experience had shown that people had been “switching the paperwork and you can’t always trust it”.

The first part of our video interview with Paterson – in which he insisted food and drink manufacturers were better off under DEFRA leadership – is available here​.

Meanwhile, this week Paterson realised his ambition of persuading the Russians to end their 18-year ban on British beef and lamb by signing an export deal​ said to be worth £100M over three years.

For more on our interview with Paterson, don’t miss the October edition of our sister publication Food Manufacture​.

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1 comment

Trust

Posted by Richard Bradford-Knox,

Agree with this. Paper records are not reliable and too easily falsified.

Part of answer lies in electronic records using handheld devices that send infomation, such as date, time and temperature, direct to a computer. This would not address horsegate problems.

Whatever is said about fraud, it showed a breakdown in the food safety traceability system. The horsemeat may not of have been dangerous or considered a food safety problem. But the worry is, what else may not have been declared that did not match raw material or ingredient specifications, such as the levels of microorganisms?

Why is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs boss commenting? Are not these issues the responsibility of the Food Standards Agency?

Also the British Retail Consortium has also been very quiet. And finally why have there seemingly been very few prosecutions?

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