The main responsibility for complying with the EU agri-food-related legislation rests with the food (or feed) business operators. Detecting and fighting fraud is the obligation of Member States, notably under the provisions of the Official Controls Regulation from 2017. It provides an all-inclusive set of tools to tackle fraud and gives the Commission a role in coordinating and enforcing the effective application of these measures at EU level.
On this subject, the Commission – at the request of one or more EU countries or by its own initiative – can organise specific targeted activities at EU level. The coordinated action aims to assess and apply EU rules while establishing the prevalence of certain hazards across the Union.
Non-compliances, malpractices, and suspected fraudulent actions are then reported to the relevant EU networks by the Member States. Implementing such coordinated control plans is in the framework of their national control programmes, without prejudice to the other official controls by the Member States.
List of control actions launched by the EU Agri-Food Fraud Network and coordinated by the Commission since 2013:
The European Commission performs a weekly screening of all ACN notifications reported in iRASFF to identify potential infractions to the EU agri-food chain legislation, which may have remained undetected by Member States and might need adequate coordination and follow-up at the European Union level. The relevant authorities are informed about these cases which are transferred for further investigations.
The Commission also engaged in OPSON (a Europol/Interpol joint initiative targeting fake and substandard food and beverages) and Europol’s operation Silver Axe, which targets counterfeit and illicit trade of pesticides. The Commission supports the actions of Europol with specific intelligence on the targeted agri-food items and participates in the specific training for participants.
Read further: Cooperation examples