The Fitness Check report of the European Commission shows that different member states are interpreting EU food laws in different ways and that these laws are therefore not being implemented in an efficient and consistent manner. The communication and management of risks in critical situations differs significantly across countries, as demonstrated by the fipronil scandal in the summer of 2017. There are also differences in the way in which official inspections are carried out and penalties applied. This creates uncertainty for consumers and inconsistency in the requirements faced by EU Single Market participants.
The European Commission needs to support the member states with regard to the interpretation and enforcement of relevant EU laws and provide the necessary resources to carry out official inspections. Quick and effective controls are also urgently required in the growing online market for groceries. Furthermore, a consistent approach to crisis management and product recalls needs to be established across all member states. The ‘general plan on risk communication’ that will form part of an amendment to the EU General Food Law Regulation must include clear provisions in this respect.