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Food & Drink Guides

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Guides on the EU policy on food and drinks.
CAP Reform: Final stage of EU wine reform enters into force
The final stage of the European Union wine reform, agreed by agriculture ministers in December 2007, entered into force on 1st August. The wide-ranging reform, the first stage of which applied from 1st August last year, should bring balance to the wine market, phase out wasteful and expensive market intervention measures and allow the budget to be used for more positive, proactive measures which will boost the competitiveness of European wines. The reform provides for a fast restructuring of the wine sector. It includes a voluntary, three-year grubbing-up scheme to provide an alternative for uncompetitive producers and to remove surplus wine from the market. Subsidies for crisis distillation and potable alcohol distillation will be phased out and the money, allocated in national envelopes, can be used for measures like wine promotion on third country markets, restructuring and investment in modernisation of vineyards and cellars. The reform will contribute to environmental protection in wine-growing regions, safeguard traditional and well-established quality policies and simplify labelling rules, for the benefit of producers and consumers alike. The restrictive planting rights system will also be abolished at EU level from 1 January 2016 onwards, with the possibility for EU Member States to keep it until December 2018 if they so wish.
EU agricultural product quality logos
Agricultural products produced in the European Union reflect the rich diversity of different traditions and regions in Europe. To help protect and promote products with particular characteristics linked to their geographical origin as well as traditional products, the EU created quality logos, named "Protected Designation of Origin", "Protected Geographical Indication" and "Traditional Speciality Guaranteed".
Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) - briefing
The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) - an important tool in the EU efforts to ensure food safety - turns 30 this year. The European Commission says figures indicate that now it is more efficient than it has ever been. The system's annual report for 2008, which is being released today, notes that the number of alert notifications in 2008 was reduced by almost half compared to 2007. The total number of notifications remained stable at around 7,000. This does not mean that there were fewer problems to report in 2008. It rather indicates that the system's contributors now focus better on the risks and only classify them under "alert notifications" if they are considered "serious" and the product is circulating on the market. That is also when rapid action is required from Member States to mitigate the risk. In 2008, there were 528 alerts out of a total of about 3,000 notifications. The Commission also received about 4,000 follow-up notifications which it transmitted to all Member States.
EU - US provisional agreement in beef dispute - briefing
Today the European Commission and the United States agreed in principle on a way forward in the long-running dispute over hormone-treated beef.
EU 1 billion euro "Food Facility" for developing countries - briefing
The European Commission adopted on 30 March a EUR 314 million package of projects to support agriculture and improve the food security situation in 23 developing countries across the globe. This is the first financing decision in the framework of the EUR 1 billion Food Facility which was adopted at the end of last year as a response to the growing food security problems faced by many developing countries. The Commission also agreed to an overall plan for the use of the entire amount of the Facility, targeting 50 developing countries in total.
EU pesticide review programme
The European Commission made today an important step forward in its efforts to ensure improved protection of human health and the environment, as it completed the review of existing pesticides that were on the market before 1993. This programme concerned about 1,000 substances, of which about 250 have passed the harmonised EU safety assessment. All reviewed pesticides have undergone a detailed risk evaluation with respect to their effects on humans and on the environment. This important achievement is the result of a considerable joint effort by the Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Member States.
EU School Fruit Scheme - briefing
The European Union's Agriculture Council on 19 November reached political agreement on a European Commission proposal for a European Union-wide scheme to provide fruit and vegetables to school children.
New rules on pesticide residues to make EU food safer
A new regulation revising and simplifying the rules pertaining to pesticide residues enters into force on 1 September 2008.
2007 RASFF annual report - briefing
In 2007 there was a record number of notifications sent to the EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) –7,354 altogether– indicating that this tool which ensures the safety of food for Europeans is functioning well. According to the "2007 RASFF annual report ", last year 961 alerts and 2015 information notifications were received, giving rise to 4339 additional information notifications. This high number is mainly attributed to the increase of the additional information notifications – up by 13.5% compared to 2006. Most notifications in 2007 concerned official controls on the internal market (43%), while 42% concerned products from non-EU countries which were blocked at the border by EU control authorities when the risks were identified. Just as in 2006, the product category for which the most alerts were sent was fish products (21%).
Feed Marketing - guide
The European Commission adopted on 4 March 2008 a proposal for an EU Regulation which considerably simplifies the existing procedures for labelling and marketing animal feed and pet food, while making the overall system more efficient and maintaining the same high level of protection of animal health, animal welfare and public health. The EU livestock sector, which contributes to almost half of all EU agricultural output, will benefit from modernised rules that will help promote its competitiveness. The freedom of the feed industry to innovate will also be boosted by these changes - the compound feed and pet food industry represents a turnover of roughly EUR 50 billion in the EU. Finally, the 62 million households in the EU that own pets will be in a better position to evaluate the real content of the pet food they buy.
Food Labelling - guide
The European Commission adopted on 30 January 2008 a proposal to make food labels clearer and more relevant to the needs of EU consumers. The aim of the draft Regulation is to modernise and improve EU food labelling rules, so that consumers have, in a legible and understandable manner, the essential information they need to make informed purchasing choices. Under the proposal, pre-packaged food will have to display key nutritional information on the front of the package. General requirements on how nutrition information should be displayed on food labels are also set out, although there is room for EU Member States to promote additional national schemes provided they do not undermine the EU rules. For public health reasons, the draft Regulation extends the current requirements for allergen labelling to cover non pre-packed food, including food sold in restaurants and other catering establishments. Industry is also expected to benefit from the proposed new rules, as they set up a clearer, more harmonised legislative framework for food labelling and create a level playing field for all operators. The draft Regulation was drawn up following extensive consultations with consumer organisations, industry and other stakeholders.
Safe Novel Foods in the EU
The European Commission on 14 January 2008 adopted a proposal to revise the Novel Foods Regulation with a view to improving the access of new and innovative foods to the EU market, while still maintaining a high level of consumer protection. Under the draft Regulation, novel foods would be subject to a simpler and more efficient authorisation procedure, which should enable safe, innovative foods to reach the EU market faster. Moreover, special provisions are made for foods which have not been traditionally sold in the EU but which have a safe history of use in third countries, in order to create a more proportionate system and positive environment for trade. The proposal also sets out certain data protection rules, which aim to protect newly developed foodstuffs once authorised, and encourage companies to invest in developing new types of foods and food production techniques.
EU food quality label systems
in 1992, the European Union created systems known as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) and TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed) to promote and protect food products.
EU initiatives to promote physical exercise - questions & answers
The European Commission and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) are launching a joint TV advertising campaign that aims to encourage European citizens to make physical activity part of their daily lives. The advert encourages viewers to get out of their armchairs and be physically active, using the slogan "Go on, get out of your armchair'. Millions of Europeans are expected to view the advert, as it will be screened free of charge during the half-time break of this season’s televised Champions League football games. This initiative comes at a time when poor diets and low levels of physical activity in Europe account for six of the seven leading risk factors for ill health in Europe. The lack of physical exercise, coupled with unbalanced diets, has turned obesity into a serious public health problem. In most EU Member States more than half of the adult population is overweight or obese. It is also estimated that almost 22 million children are overweight in the EU and each year this figure is growing by 400,000.
EU reform of the wine market
The European Commission on 4 July adopted proposals for a wide-ranging reform of the EU's Common Market Organisation for wine. This aims to increase the competitiveness of EU producers, win back markets, balance supply and demand, simplify the rules, preserve the best traditions of EU wine production, reinforce the social fabric of rural areas and respect the environment. Under the proposals, all the inefficient market support measures – various aids for distillation, private storage aid, export refunds – would be abolished from day one. The addition of sugar to enrich wine – chaptalisation – would be banned, and aid for must for enrichment, introduced to compensate for the higher cost compared to chaptalisation, would also be abolished. Crisis distillation would be replaced by two crisis management measures, paid for from national financial envelopes. Much more money would go into promoting EU wine, particularly on third country markets. For a five-year transitional period, planting restrictions would be kept in place and uncompetitive producers would have the possibility to leave the sector with attractive financial support. After 2013, restrictions on planting would be lifted to allow competitive producers to expand their production if they so choose. Labelling rules would be made simpler, certain wine making practices accepted by all producer countries in the International Organisation of Vine and Wine would be adopted by the EU and quality policy would be based on a geographical origin approach. EU Member States would receive a national financial envelope and a menu of actions to allow them to take measures best suited to the local situation. More money would go into Rural Development to fund measures including the setting up of young wine producers and environmental protection.
Health and Nutrition Claims: Questions and Answers
Questions and Answers about the EU Regulation on Health and Nutrition Claims.
Better Training for Safer Food annual report
The Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General of the European Commission manages the Better Training for Safer Food initiative. This report describes the activity of Better Training for Safer Food in 2006.
Food Safety in the European Union
Consumer confidence in the safety of food products has sometimes been shaken in recent years by the cumulative impacts of food-related health crises. Responding to the challenge, the European Union has put in place a comprehensive strategy to restore people's belief in the safety of their food "from the farm to the fork".