The horsemeat scandal, which hit the EU at the beginning of 2013, put the European food sector under the spotlight.
Tests carried out in the wake of the crisis revealed that public health was not at risk and that this was a case of food fraud rather than food safety. However, the episode dented consumer confidence and raised questions about the effectiveness of controls along the food supply chain.
Concern about the rising number of incidents of food fraud has led to calls for stronger action in this area, not least because the food chain in Europe is worth some €750 billion a year. The agri-food industry is the EU’s second biggest industrial sector, employing 48 million workers in 17 million companies.
The European Commission set about restoring consumer and market confidence through a number of measures, including proposals to strengthen controls along the food chain and toughen penalties for fraudsters. While stakeholders welcome measures to improve the system of controls, the question of who pays for them has already sparked a lively debate.