Food safety and the lessons to be learned

“Hello I’m Chris Burns and welcome to the Network where we connect into a matrix of news makers to get to the heart of an issue and watch out – they’ve got to answer in 25 seconds or less, or else. Let’s take a look at that issue, right now.

It’s only the latest food related crisis to shake European public confidence after scandals over dioxin and other tainted meat. Thousands are sickened by E. Colo bacteria. Experts scramble to trace the origin while fear and suspicion make shoppers wary, devastating many European farmers. As the danger subsides the wider concerns about food safety and security won’t go away. How will Europe deal with the next food scare? How to feed a growing world population without wrecking the planet or endangering people’s health. Will GM crops enslave farmers to big agricultural concerns?

Will cloning cause undue suffering among livestock?

On the other hand, what are the risks of higher food prices if we don’t hijack nature to boost production? Recent spikes in prices, driven in part by rising demand from emerging economies, have driven people-power rebellions around the world. As global warming worsens, they may only be the beginning.

Now wired in to this edition of the network from the European Parliament in Brussels, George Lyon, a British MEP who has been critical of the way the E. Coli crisis has been handled. Also here in Brussels is Eric Poudelet who is director of the Food Chain Safety Department at the European Commission’s Directorate of Health and Consumer Affairs. And from Madrid, Jose Angel Olivan, who is President of the Spanish Consumers Union, also critical of how authorities have dealt with the crisis.

Jose Angel Let’s begin with you. There’s a lot of anger in Spain because of this crisis. Whose fault is it that dozens of people have died from E. Coli?”:

Jose Angel Olivan is the Director of the Spanish consumers


“In reality it’s been a food and health crisis that’s been very badly managed. Very poorly managed because in the first place it has led to major economic losses among agricultural producers in Spain and other parts of Europe. But above all it has raised doubts and insecurities with consumers about the protection mechanisms that exist in Europe. That is to say that the authorities have not moved with sufficient speed and firmness.”

Chris Burns euronews:

“Thank you Jose Angel. George, what’s your take on this? It looks like Jose Angel is accusing authorities of not acting fast enough.”

George Lyon is a Deputy of the Liberal and Democrats in the European Parliament:

“Well I think the German response was at best shambolic in the response to the initial outbreak, We need to know what caused it, what went wrong on the farms, why it was so slow to actually identify what went wrong and we need to learn the lessons so that Europe can actually react faster next time this happens.”

Chris Burns euronews:

“OK alright Eric let’s go to you. How much of that responsibility do you take?”

Eric Poudelet, Director of Food Chain Safety:

“The responsibility lies essentially with the German authorities. It’s true that there have been errors in communication, a lack of coordination, a lack of consensus on a federal level, between the German provinces. But we have given out information as soon as possible.”

Chris Burns euronews:

“Alright but let me throw it back to you again then..why was the EU so powerless in this case? What does it need to do in the future for the next crisis?”

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Food safety and the lessons to be learned