More than 90 comments have been received on the European Commission’s sustainable food plan.

The strategy details the regulatory and non-regulatory measures needed to create more efficient, climate-smart systems that provide healthy food, while providing a living for EU farmers and fishermen. The roadmap covers all steps in the food supply chain from production to consumption. Comments are being accepted until March 16.

The European Commission announced, as part of its Green Deal Communication in December 2019, that the Farm to Fork Strategy, to be presented in spring 2020, will show what is necessary for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system. The Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy will support the strategy.

In the European Union, about 20 percent of the food produced is currently wasted, whilst 36 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day. However, there is also rising obesity, contributing to a high prevalence of diet-related diseases and related healthcare costs.

The European Commission is looking at options to provide better information such as where food comes from and its nutritional value.

Antimicrobial resistance is also a serious health threat linked to excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobials, including in farmed animals. The strategy looks at reducing the use and risk of chemical pesticides, use of fertilizers and antibiotics as well as seeking improved animal welfare.

Safe food transport
ENFIT, an international association for supply chain safety, said the safe transport of raw materials and food is missing from the document.

Around 250,000 tons of raw materials and food are transported unpacked in food transport containers in the EU every day. Cross-contamination with Salmonella, mold, chemical pollutants, allergens or foreign bodies such as plastic, glass, wood or metal repeatedly lead to health problems for consumers, according to the group.

Producers put cost pressure on transport companies and the latter try to avoid or reduce costs for the cleaning and disinfection of transport containers to such an extent that hygiene of the containers cannot be guaranteed. Containers dedicated to the transport of food according to EU law and marked with such a label are sometimes used to transport chemicals or feed raw materials that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

From 2018, the association has been developing guidelines on food safety in the supply chain covering loading, unloading, transport, suitability of the transport container, cleaning, disinfection, food defense and traceability. ENFIT said this guideline should be integrated into the strategy.

Comments have also been submitted by the European Poultry Meat Sector (AVEC), Dutch Association of the Poultry Processing Industries (NEPLUVI), Greenpeace, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), Nestlé, European Crop Protection Association and European Public Health Alliance.

Food irradiation consultation
Meanwhile, the European Commission has opened a public consultation on the legal framework for food irradiation.

Food irradiation is a decontaminating process used to kill pathogenic bacteria that cause food poisoning, such as Salmonella or Campylobacter. It delays fruit ripening and contributes to extending shelf life of foods. It does not lead to radioactive food.

The Commission will use information from the consultation, and other data, to evaluate the EU regulatory framework for irradiation of food. An initial comment period was held in late 2017. This consultation is open until May 25, 2020.

Only one category of foodstuffs, dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasoning, is authorized for irradiation at EU level. National authorizations for other foodstuffs exist in some EU countries. Irradiated food on the market in the EU must be labelled.

Reports from the Commission to the European Parliament and European Council on food and ingredients treated with ionising radiation should be annual but have not been updated since 2015.

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