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[01/02/2005] Bizarre EU rules & regulations

More bizarre EU rules ... For your information

Tuesday 1 February 2005

Dear Friends,
Below for your information is an article from today's Daily Telegraph about
a major new EU law which came into force on 1st January and which none of
us have heard anything about until now.

So far it seems to have has gone unmentioned in the Irish media, which
concerns itself mostly with other things.

This law comes from an EU that promises to reduce over-regulation!

Can you imagine the lunacy described below being implemented?  Just
conceive the complexity of labelling.  Just imagine the field day for
inspectors of Trading
Standards.  Imagine how your local shopkeeper, greengrocer, fruit & veg
stall or butcher will cope. And your  local fishmonger as he attaches the
label: "Caught by Joe Bloggs at 2 am on 2nd February 2005 200 miles west of
Malin Head in a north-easterly gale and processed by Joe McCarthy of

And what will restaurant menus look like?  As the restaurateur comes back
from Moore Street or Smithfield Market he will have to change his menu
because the steak has come from a different farmer this week!

Yours etc.

Anthony Coughlan



New EU laws track food from "farm to fork"

By David Rennie in Brussels

The European Commission yesterday unveiled a mammoth new system of
regulations, obliging the food and drink trade to track and record all food
and food ingredients from "farm to fork", then keep those records for up to
five years.

Under a European Union law that came into force on Jan.1 this year, every
business in the food and drink trade must keep detailed records of every
delivery from a supplier and every delivery out to a customer. EU guidelines
published yesterday spelled out the meaning of that new requirement,
technically known as Article 18 of the General Food Law.

According to the Commission, those affected do not just include established
companies but individuals, such as those running a private catering firm out
of their kitchen, or a "gastro-pub" buying fresh game from a hunter at the
back door.

The new law also affects charities, who are now obliged to record all food
donations, "if only with a notebook and pen", according to Philip Tod, a
Commission spokesman. All records must be kept for five years, unless the
products are perishable, like fresh meat, in which case records must be kept
for six months.

The intention is to have standardised "traceability systems" across the EU,
so authorities can track food almost instantly in the event of a crisis,
such as an outbreak of food poisoning or contamination. Transport companies
that merely ship food from place to place are also obliged to keep batch by
batch records of every delivery they make to a restaurant, grocers or

The guidelines were agreed to by senior officials from the United Kingdom
and other EU member states, working under Commission auspices, and aim to
clarify the law and ensure "harmonized implementation".

As a general rule, every link in the food chain is obliged to keep records
"one up and one down" - to have clear records and knowledge of the supplier
immediately below them in the chain, and the customer above them.

Restaurants, shops and those who sell to the public are the end of the chain
and are not obliged to keep track of the names and addresses of those who
eat their products.

However, there are few other exceptions. Gone are the days when a chef
working in the countryside can buy freshly shot hares from "Old Bert" at the
back door, no questions asked, or baskets of wild mushrooms from a Middle
European emigre, with not a word of English, but an expert eye for fine

Charities accepting donations of food are covered by the new law and would
be breaking it if they did not record who left each packet of soup or pasta
at the church door. However, member states are urged to evaluate charities'
conduct "on a case by case basis", when it comes to enforcement and

There are two levels of records to be kept. The first level must be kept by
all "players'' in the food industry, no matter how small. It includes the
name and address of all suppliers and the nature of products supplied by
him, with a date of transaction or delivery, plus the equivalent information
for customers.

Only larger businesses must keep the second "highly recommended" level of
information, defined as volume or quantity; batch number, if any; and a more
detailed description of the product, such as the variety of fruit or
vegetable and how it is packed and processed.


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