Meat approval system in Netherlands may be illegal

5 March 2008

Meat approval system in Netherlands may be illegal

The Dutch Food and Food Products Authority (VWA) has farmed out its legal duty to approve or reject meat from slaughtered animals to the private sector, in the form of commercial corporation KDS plc. SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard will today put a series of questions on the issue to the European Commission. "In my opinion," she says, "the intention of the legislation is not that commercial firms take over this sort of task. In fact it isn't permitted for them to do so."

Kartika LiotardPost-mortem inspection of meat must be carried out by means of official controls by the competent authorities, according to the European regulation on the subject. “As far as I'm concerned that means the VWA," says Liotard, "and not a commercial firm to which you've chosen to farm out this important work. I am asking the Commission, therefore, to get the European Food and Veterinary Office (EFVO) to look into whether this way of doing things is in fact allowed. The question is whether the Netherlands is fulfilling its obligations regarding the scrupulousness expected from meat inspection."

According to a statement from the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, the construction in question does not constitute "putting out to tender or the transfer of competences." Liotard disagrees: "If KDS is doing the work, and it's no longer the VWA that's doing it, then the work is being put out to tender and transferred. But in order to clear this up the EFVO needs to look into it and make a statement.”.

Liotard is also concerned about a possible conflict of interests. “KDS is a subsidiary of CBS, that in addition to post-mortem inspection also provides insurance in the sector, including insurance against meat being rejected. If KDS rejects meat, another branch of the same company has to pay up. There's an inherent conflict of interest in such a construction, something which is absolutely forbidden in the European regulation."

The VWA stated in a press release that the European legislation allows inspection to be put out to tender to "assistants in the service of an independent foundation". As Liotard points out, however, "KDS is hardly an independent foundation, it's a company with conflicting interests."

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