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Brussels, 26 May 2003

Weekly reports of rapid alert system for food and feed go on-line

Commissioner David Byrne announced today at the Agricultural Council the publication, on the Commission's Europa Web site, of weekly reports from the rapid alert system for food and feed. The rapid alert system is a network of national authorities managed by the European Commission that exchanges information on measures taken to address potential health risks in the area of food and feed.

Commissioner Byrne, responsible for Health and Consumer Protection, said: "As set out in the EU's general Regulation on Food Safety we are going to publish each week a report containing information on all notifications, and make this available on the internet. Information will be provided on the type of product and the problem identified, the origin of the product and the notifying Member State. However, we have to strike the necessary balance between openness and protection of commercially sensitive information, such as names of companies. The system has gained a high level of credibility from all parties involved, and fears of negative publicity should not jeopardise the good co-operation achieved."

The Commission has already taken a step towards transparency by publishing, for the first time, an annual activity report for 2002 for the rapid alert system, and making this available on the internet. This report gives a complete overview of all the notifications, the breakdown of notifications by notifying Member State, by food product concerned, by the hazard identified and by producing country.

The rapid alert system is a concrete and visible result of European integration. The quick exchange of information about food related risks ensures coherent and simultaneous actions by all Member States. This is a very important contribution to consumer safety. Consumers can be reassured that all necessary measures have either already been taken, or are in the process of being taken, for products subject to a notification.

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