The longest Food Safety scandal?
It all started in September 2020, but now 9 months later, there are still withdrawals and recalls related to the high amount of ethylene oxide in ingredients throughout Europe. This is one of the longest Food Safety Incident of recent history, and yet there is no visible will to raise the awareness of consumers
It started with Sesame from India but has now expanded to other countries and ingredients.
It is still under investigation, but until now there is no clear result, no official communication. Only some national investigation results have been published (such as the “Rapport d’information, de la commission des affaires économiques du Sénat n° 368 (2020-2021 – 17 février 2021)
European Food Safety?
It is remarkable how different the reactions from the countries are. For the same issue, there are public recall in France, silent withdrawals in other countries. From discussions with some clients, the criteria are not always fully understandable.
Very recently ice cream produced in Spain, with an ingredient from Turkey (stabilizer mentioned as Lygomme in a RASFF notification) has only resulted in publics recalls in France. This ingredient contains different texturizers (guar, locust bean gums,…) that are used across the food industry. One of the last impacted products are Sugar to prepare jelly and Cream Deserts.
More than 1000 different products (EAN code) have been publicly recalled until today. More than 6000 if we take into account presentations and batch numbers.
This impacts organic and non-organic products.
Yet the last official European update (RASSF ) is from February.
There is definitely a lot to do in terms of transparency towards consumers, in the way the information is shared in the different available portals. Despite the progress that have been made in this area, it is difficult to understand this silence. Major brands are impacted, all kinds of products and now other plant-based ingredients.
Was there a lack of official controls, were/are there malpractices to improve the bacteriological contamination of products to comply with European criteria?
Which products are impacted and how dangerous is it?
Difficult to know if these recalls are being done according to only maximum prevention principles or because the threat is definitely there. In the latter case, we Europeans are not equal versus this hazard, as we depend on the decisions made by our local authorities.
Let’s hope that the raising focus on Food Safety Culture will bring more transparency and collaboration between the different stakeholders and that it will help to keep in mind the only important issue: the safety of the consumers, particularly of the most vulnerable between them.