In a press release on January 15, 2019, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) presented its special report on their audit of the EU food safety model. The audit “found that the EU food safety model commands respect worldwide, but that it is currently overstretched.” The audit itself was completed based on the guiding question of “Is the EU food safety model soundly based and implemented to keep the products we consume in the EU safe from chemical hazards?” The effort led to a number of conclusions, including that “[s]ome Member States’ controls cover certain chemicals more frequently than others, and their legal frameworks are so extensive that public authorities find it difficult to fulfil all their responsibilities.”

With public authorities only able to complete a limited amount of food safety checks, the ECA says that “the EU model can best remain credible if public- and private-sector control systems complement each other. However, synergies between the two have only just started to be explored.” In their set of recommendations to the European Commission (EC), the auditors outlined that EC should “assess potential changes to the legislation governing chemical hazards in the light of the capacity to apply it consistently” and “further encourage complementarity, so that Member State public authorities can rely more extensively on checks carried out by the private sector.”

In response to the audit report, non-profit consumer organization BEUC commented that “[w]hilst companies’ own checks may play a role in a more efficient control system, [we] also urge Member States to allocate enough funding for official food controls.” They go on to say that “[b]ecause of the economic crisis, Member States have been cutting back on resourcing controls to save money. This trend must be reversed, and it is encouraging that some governments have done so.”

Read more

ECA (January 15, 2019). “EU food safety system overstretched, say Auditors.” (pdf)

BEUC (January 17, 2019). “Time to improve checks of chemicals in food, recommends EU report.”


ECA (January 2019). “Chemical hazards in our food: EU food safety policy protects us but faces challenges.(pdf)