Food fraud, EC Knowledge Center


The European Commission presents the new ‘Knowledge Center for Fraud and Food Quality’ to Parliament on March 13, 2018. First news and perplexity to follow.

Foreword, food fraud in the EU

European legislation to guard food safety is the most advanced on the planet. Its structural reform, initiated with the Food Security White Paper (12.2.00), represented a quantum leap in the direction of the goals set. (1)

The food security crises that have spread like wildfire across the Internal Market in recent years, however, have shown the inability of the European system to deal with the most critical situations. Particularly when they are derived from criminal activities.

The supply chain needs integrity And of new rules. To avoid a recurrence of international crises such as Fipronil in eggs

,hepatitis E in sausages.

, salmonella in baby milk.


However, the JunckerCommission proposes to address these problems with a ‘cultural’ approach. Instead of mobilizing Vytenis Andriukaitis – EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety – he brings in Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education and Culture, Youth and Sports.

The Knowledge Center for Food Fraud and Quality.

Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality
is established at the Joint Research Center(JRC), under the responsibility of Education and Culture Commissioner Tibor Navracsics. (2)

The Knowledge Center for Food Fraud and Quality should:

– ‘
Coordinate surveillance activities
market, such as on the composition and sensory properties of foods offered under the same packaging and brand name in different markets across the EU, (3)

operating an early warning system
and information for food fraud, such as by monitoring the media and providing such information to the general public,

link the information systems
of member states and the Commission, such as databases describing the composition of certain high-value agri-food products such as wine or olive oil,

generate country-specific knowledge
by country; for example, by mapping the skills and laboratory infrastructure in member states.’

The Knowledge Center for Food Fraud and Quality
will produce newsletters, interactive maps, databases and periodic reports and make this information accessible to the public.’ (4)

Information and culture, scientific culture translated into simple language for use by ordinary citizens, all good. But it is not enough. The same early warning system referred to must be based on an act of legislation that defines the reporting responsibilities of member states.

Food fraud in the EU, the rules that are missing

To combat food fraud in the EU.

, as has already been pointed out

, new rules are needed. In particular:

notion of fraud. The premise of combating a phenomenon is to frame it from a legal perspective. Therefore, what is needed first and foremost is a definition of food fraud, harmonized at the EU level, and the agreement of all member states to provide for its criminal punishment, on a par with associative crimes. In fact, only on this basis is it possible to give judicial police bodies powers of investigation and international cooperation consonant with their objectives,

judicial police. It is necessary to expand the powers of OLAF, which has always been in charge of fraud suppression, and define the parameters of efficiency and effectiveness of control and enforcement interventions. Providing for appropriate training and audit programs,

sanctions. The main penalties, imprisonment and fines, must come with accessory penalties designed to inhibit recidivism. Including confiscation of enterprises and assets. Those convicted of fraud should be registered on a European public database and banned from all activities in the food and feed supply chains,

– name & shame. The names of all companies and their managers, as well as the consulting and certification firms involved, must be disclosed on available records online to the public. As early as the alert notification in the Rasff system (

Rapid Alert System on Food and Feed)

, subject to the duties of updating the news,

international cooperation. The responsibility for alert notification in the Rasff system must come defined in peremptory terms. Each day’s delay in reporting fraud on the Rasff system must result in the automatic application of exemplary penalties against the member state responsible (to prevent a repetition of grotesque delays, as per the Fipronil case-school).

For further study, we recommend the free ebook ‘

Food safety, mandatory rules and voluntary standards

Dario Dongo


(1) Cf. General Food Law (reg. EC 178/02) and Hygiene Package (reg. EC 852-853-854/04 et seq. most recently

(2) JRC’s Knowledge Centers-already dedicated to land policies, migration and demography, disaster risk management, bioeconomy

– are described in summary at

(3) The case of the so-called.

Dual Quality Foods.

, to which just last week extensive meetings were devoted in Brussels.

(4) So reads the original press release, only today supplemented with a few additional insights and the involvement of EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vêrá Jourová. At

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.