Agriculture Ministers Back Pig Meat Private Storage

by 5m Editor
27 January 2011, at 10:28am

EU - European Agriculture Ministers this week backed moves for private storage of pig meat following representation from a Belgian delegation about the difficult situation of the pig meat market in the EU.

The comments by the Belgians were a follow-up to the reflection day on ‘The pig meat sector towards 2020’ held on 3 December 2010 in Brussels, during which an initial review of the pig meat market had been drawn up by Member States' experts in the sector.

Since then, the ministers at the Agricultural Council meeting heard that the situation has further deteriorated, with a strong increase in the price of feed as a consequence of the increase in cereals prices and the dioxin crisis in Germany.

The Commission announced its decision to open support measures for private storage for pig meat.

In addition, an enlarged advisory committee (stakeholders from the sector and national experts) will be convened to evaluate medium-term measures for the pig meat sector. Three items in particular were identified for further reflection: intervention measures in crisis situation, insurance systems and mutual fund, and food promotion programmes for this sector.

The Council welcomed the information provided by the Commission and the establishment of the enlarged advisory committee.

A delegation from Germany also told the Council about the present situation in Germany following the dioxin contamination of animal feed affecting the egg, poultry and pig sectors.

Precautionary measures have been implemented for suspected farms (eggs, poultry and pig production), which were kept blocked until analytical results proved that there was no contamination by dioxin, the council heard.

Criminal action at the source of the crisis could not be excluded and judicial investigations are running. In addition, the German authorities announced a 10 points action plan to prevent the repetition of such contamination in the food chain.

The Commission recalled that this case had not presented any health threat for consumers and underlined that the existing EU food safety framework had allowed for rapid information and reaction.

Harmonised EU information towards third countries had been provided by the Commission to minimise the danger of restrictive measures against European products.

In reaction to the crisis, the Commission will propose four specific preventive actions: a compulsory approval system for the establishments treating fats for animal feed, an improved separation of production streams for fat for animal feed and other fats, stronger monitoring and sampling requirements and a reporting obligation for private laboratories performing dioxin analyses.

Most of the Member States thanked the German authorities and the Commission for the prompt and transparent actions taken and welcomed the initiative of the Commission to take further steps to ensure the proper functioning of the EU food safety system.