|Food Solutions is now a member of the UEAPME Food Forum in Brussels. This gave us the unique opportunity on 14th April to put the small food business points of view to the Commission. We did this together with representatives from other Member States, so that the messages we put across were not just UK but the common decisions of food SME organisations in Europe.
The Commission takes into account such views.
The objective of the meeting
The objective of the four hour meeting was to advise the Commission on the revision of the General Food Regulation EC 178/2002. This is the regulation that sets the scene for all subsequent EU food law. We were only looking at the first 21 Articles and not at the structure and performance of EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority. That is for another day.
The Commission was represented by Dr Maria Christodoulou supported by Anne Marechal.
The basis for discussions was a questionnaire sent out to food SMEs in Member States asking for their views.
Several of the issues raised by members of Food Solutions were put forward:
- The demand by UK authorities saying that the same vac-pak machine could not be used for raw and ready to eat foods without dismantling and complete sterilisation. This interpretation was described as silly.
- That a food business in old premises could never be given a top hygiene rating.
- The requirement for nutrient profiling on restaurant meals.
- Inspection charges which, according to our research survey would close down 147,000 food SMEs in UK alone if implemented
- Changes to traceability regulations
- Definitions of terms
The Food Forum recommended that a further Article be added to the regulation as Article 8b which demands that Competent Authorities and the Commission consider the impact of both regulations and interpretations may have on small and micro food businesses. Existing law demands assessment of the impact on consumers. We want it to include the impact on small businesses too.
We said there must be a regulatory demand for protection of small business' interests also.