Tag Archives EU

The European Parliament has adopted rules governing the certification and labeling of organic foods, including supply chain checks and updated standards for organic foods imported from non-EU countries. The rules also cover plant seeds, allowing producers to offer locally adapted traditional varieties for sale and use. "Organic standards are already very high, but consumer confidence can best be strengthened when the rules are clear and comprehensible. The new regulation wil[l] certainly make a positive contribution here," MEP Martin Häusling said in a interview. “Moreover, many of the rules that give producers security are also beneficial to consumers. The annual process-oriented controls mean consumers can be sure companies are inspected regularly."

The European Commission has proposed changes to directives governing food safety, marketing and distribution. According to an EU news release, the proposal would update the General Food Law, "which dates back from 2002 and thus needs an update," and "will give citizens greater access to information submitted to the European Food Safety Authority [(EFSA)] on approvals concerning the agri-food chain." The EU proposes to create a registry of commissioned studies available to the public and predicts that Member States will be more involved in EFSA's governance structure and scientific panels. The proposal also reportedly targets "dual foods," or foods marketed across the continent but produced and sold with ingredients of reduced quality in some areas. Additional details on the New Deal for Consumers, including proposed rules on collective redress, appear in Shook's Product Liability Bulletin.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed to allow the import of raw bivalve molluscan shellfish—including clams, mussels, oysters and scallops—harvested in the Netherlands and Spain by officially acknowledging that the EU food-safety system provides "at least the same level of sanitary protection as the United States' system and is therefore equivalent." The United States and the European Commission have not yet reached equivalence findings on food labeling requirements, maximum levels for food additives, maximum pesticide residue limits, drug residue limits or limits on other contaminants. "These critical determinations are a result of a multi-year, in-depth and cooperative review of shellfish safety systems in the U.S. and the EU, in which technical experts on both sides of the Atlantic have concluded that many of the safety controls in the EU and the U.S are equivalent," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "Both governments recommended these actions…

An EU magistrate has returned a preliminary ruling in a dispute between the Scotch Whisky Association and a German manufacturer of a spirit called “Glen Buchenbach” that may hinder the trade group's claim of infringement of the registered geographical term “Scotch Whisky.” Scotch Whisky Ass’n, The Registered Office v. Klotz, No. C-44/17 (opinion of advocate general issued February 22, 2018). The trade group argues that the use of the Gaelic term “Glen” is both an indirect commercial use and an evocation of the registered geographical indication, amounting to a false and misleading indication of origin of the product. Noting that at least three whiskies produced outside of Scotland include "glen" as part of their names, the magistrate found that "‘Glen’ does not have a sufficiently clear and direct link with the protected geographical indication in question.” The indirect use of a registered geographical indication, the court found, “requires the disputed…

Greek officials have reportedly charged seven people with criminal fraud and money laundering related to the sale of adulterated olive oil. The group allegedly added green dyes to sunflower seed oil then sold it off-market as extra-virgin olive oil. Most of the oil was sold in Greece or exported to Germany and other EU countries using invoices that were later destroyed. The Greek police reportedly became aware of the sale of adulterated oil when olive oil producers told the Hellenic Food Authority that their producer codes were being used on packages and products they did not sell.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) has issued a ruling that may result in price-fixing fines of up to $5 million for 18 endive producers alleged to have created a “complex and continuous cartel” intended to enforce minimum producer prices. President of the Autorité de la concurrence v. Assoc. des producteurs vendeurs d’endives, No. C-671/15 (E.C.R., entered November 14, 2017). The dispute began in 2007 after French officials for consumer affairs and fraud prevention referred an investigation of industry practices to the French Competition Authority (FCA). After an appeals court reversal holding that the producers had not engaged in price-fixing, FCA brought an appeal in cassation; that court stayed proceedings and asked the ECJ for a preliminary ruling on the matter. ECJ held that practices related to the collective fixing of prices, control of products or exchanges of strategic trade information violate the Treaty on the Functioning…

Amid trade negotiations among the European Union, Japan and Mexico, American manufacturers and winemakers have urged the United States to exert influence on the issue of geographical indicators. In October 2017, a group of food and beverage producers—including the California Wine Institute—asked the Trump administration to express concerns to Mexico and Japan about limiting the use of common names and terms. While the organizations do not object to the protection of some geographical indicators, such as “Idaho Potatoes” or “Parmigiano Reggiano,” the EU “has been aggressively seeking to confiscate generic terms that derive from part of the protected name or are otherwise in common usage, such as ‘parmesan,’” the letter argued. In response, a group of U.S. wine growers has urged the Trump administration to encourage Japan and Mexico to allow the protection of wine place names. "While we are fully aware of the controversial nature of place names in the…

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has determined that member states cannot invoke the “precautionary principle” to restrict the cultivation and sale of crops developed from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) if the European Commission has not determined that the crops “are likely to constitute a serious risk to human health, animal health or the environment.” Case C-111/16, Italy v. Fidenato (E.C.J., entered September 13, 2017). The ruling responded to a request from an Italian court overseeing the prosecution of three farmers accused of growing GMO maize in violation of Italian law. The district court judge stayed the criminal proceedings to ask the ECJ whether Italy had the authority to ban the crop despite EC approval of its cultivation and sale. In 2013, Italy asked the European Commission to adopt emergency measures allowing member states to apply a “precautionary principle” and implement risk-management measures where “the possibility of harmful effects on…

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has reportedly indicated the EU will issue guidelines discouraging companies from selling apparently identical food products across Europe but using inferior ingredients in the foods sold in the eastern part of the continent. The Czech Republic's agriculture minister has asserted that his country is Europe's "garbage can" because companies produce their foods with cheaper ingredients but sell them with identical branding. Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia have also objected to the practice, which multiple studies have purportedly confirmed. Juncker reportedly said the EU would issue guidelines on how to interpret existing rules in September 2017 and did not rule out further legislation to combat the discrimination. See Reuters, July 27, 2017.   Issue 642

Members of the European Parliament have backed by a 559 to 31 vote, with 26 abstentions, a non-binding resolution asking the EU to “further harmonize the safety requirements for food contact materials [FCMs], which are largely used in everyday life in the form of food packaging, kitchen utensils and tableware.” According to a news release, “Only four out of listed 17 food contact materials are currently covered by specific safety measures foreseen in existing EU framework legislation: plastics, ceramics, regenerated cellulose and ‘active and intelligent’ materials.” In particular, the report on the implementation of the Food Contact Materials Regulation ((EC) No 1935/2004) calls on the Commission to consider identifying bisphenol A (BPA) as one of the substances classified as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) under REACH regulations. It also asks the European Commission to prohibit the use of bisphenol S (BPS) in FCMs “as a substitute for Bisphenol…

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