This is a brief summary of an article which was
originally published in Lebensmittel Zeitung on Monday, 20 June
Pesticides in fruit, traces of antibiotics in milkpowder,
splinters of glass in meat - few things are as likely to raise
consumers' attention to such an extent as threats to their
health which stem from issues in the food supply chain. Apart from
such health and safety issues, food's sustainability, food
waste and unfair trading practices manage to attract headlines
regularly: we are most vulnerable when it comes to our food and
beverages. Public scandals often leave people with the impression
that legislative authorities just don't care sufficiently - are
they entirely mistaken?
In a recently published article for
"Lebensmittelzeitung", the leading German special
interest food magazine, Dr Ina Gerstberger and David Lowe discuss
the UK approach - a binding code with a regulator who has the power
to investigate and ultimately fine - and whether this could serve
as a role model for the European Union. With a reach of 80 000
professionals from the foods and consumer goods industry,
"Lebensmittelzeitung" is the most high-profile magazine
for this industry in Germany. Editors are highly selective when it
comes to the experts they ask for contribution.
A brief summary
Looking at the EU, there is much diversity and fragmentation
regarding the regulation of the food supply chain. Even though the
European Commission had - already back in 2014 - asked small and
mid-sized companies affected by unfair trading practices to get
involved in initiatives like the SCI (European Supply Chain
Initiative), these are voluntary and very unlikely to have
sufficient deterrent effect. Great Britain, however, is one step
ahead: the Grocery Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP) brings with it a
number of obligations for the ten UK food companies with the
highest turnover. In addition to a legally binding code, there is a
specialist regulator, the Groceries Code Adjudicator, who has the
power to investigate and ultimately fine. The UK approach is more
than just a vague landmark for politicians in Europe. With the
possibilities it offers to control food supply chain and to
sanction unfair and risky practices, it is trend-setting for
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After studying bioengineering and completing a PhD in the San Francisco Bay Area and a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship in London, Mark has spent the past four years analysing global health policy.
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