On 27 October 2020, Greek Member of the European Parliament Emmanouil Fragkos of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, filed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“Greek farmers are largely committed to the production of authentic and organic products that are much sought after for their nutritional value and distinctive flavour and are accordingly in line with exacting international market standards. Unfortunately however, there have now been reports of further misappropriation of Greek labels, this time with regard to raw pistachios produced in Aegina and Fthiotida. This is bringing insupportable pressure to bear on honest farmers belonging to the Molos-Thermopyles pistachio growers’ cooperative.
The misappropriation of Greek labels is forcing down both price and quality, to the short-term and long-term detriment of honest producers.
While responsibility for tackling such fraudulent practices lies with the individual Member States, more than one of them are affected by attempted illegal import activity throughout Europe.
In view of this:
1. Have European administrative assistance and cooperation mechanisms been activated to identify massive imports of raw pistachios into the EU?
2. Are instruments available to track the origin of these products? Are plans afoot to further develop the European TRACES platform, in cooperation with academic circles, the private sector and possibly the ‘EIT Food’ knowledge and innovation community, for ex post verification of product origin?
3. Are channels of redress available against countries routinely exporting products illegally labelled as ‘Greek’?”
On 8 January 2021, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, responded on behalf of the European Commission stating:
“A number of initiatives are in place to address food fraud within the EU, such as the EU Food Fraud Network, a dedicated IT tool known as the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation System (AAC) and the EC Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality. Under the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Commission will also work on additional actions to enable authorities at European and national level to fight food fraud more effectively.
Since 2014, the Commission publishes annual reports on the EU Food Fraud Network and the AAC, with statistics on the exchanges between the Member States on food fraud activities. In 2019, 297 exchanges occurred in the AAC-Food Fraud system.
The AAC system will be fully integrated into the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), which enables the efficient sharing of information and allows swift reaction when risks to public health are detected in the food chain.
No authority, Greek one included, ever requested assistance and cooperation with respect to cases related to origin for pistachios from Greece. When necessary, the Commission liaises with competent authorities of the affected country with a view to achieving prompt and effective action from their side on cases of suspicion of fraud.
Regarding traceability, obligations are imposed on food business operators within the EU. They should have the ability to track any food through all stages of production, processing and distribution. Traceability remains subject to official controls from competent authorities of the EU Member States.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/pistachio-ap%C3%A9ro-salted-snack-5488205/