Food industry meets Brussels deadline

Related tags Czech republic European union

As accession lifts the EU's population by 20 per cent at a stroke,
the European Commission reports that every food processor in all 10
new member states has been brought into the net of EU regulations.
But for one in 12, granted transitional periods, it may take
another three years to achieve full compliance, reports Simon

The turmoil of bringing 10 nations' food processors in line with nearly half a century's accumulation of EU regualation has been profound. In the Czech Republic, it has sent more than half of the country's food processors out of business, although with limited impact, claims the local industry federation.i>"The total number of companies that have been closed down stands at 1,000, most of these being very small operations that were operated by hand. Overall the impact of these closures has been very small on the food and drink industry in the Czech Republic,"

said Miroslaw Kobena, spokesperson for the Federation of Food and Drink Industries in Czech Republic.

"At the same time, some 900 food processing companies have actually complied with the EU regulations, although that figure is changing on a daily basis. We expect that in the coming months there will be a considerable influx of companies which will receive certification allowing them to trade in the enlarged Europe,"​ in the Czech Republic just 52 businesses have been offered a transitional period, 44 being meat processors.

Transition means domestic sales only

"Of the 52 businesses that have secured transitional status, they now have up to three years to bring their operations up to the required standards. In the meantime they are allowed to trade on a domestic basis. This means that their produce must be clearly labelled, stating that the product is only on sale in the Czech Republic and not for sale outside."

"During the transitional period there will be two options for the companies. The first is to work towards attaining EU certification during this period, the second is to carry on as normal and then to close the business at the end of this period."

These requirements are mandatory for all the new Member States. As most of these business are medium to large operations, the outcome of their transition is set to be far more significant than the first-round closures of smaller businesses.

Of the total 12,000 food processing businesses in the member states, 1006 have been offered transitional periods.

These have been concentrated primarily in the meat and dairy sectors. In Poland, where 539 businesses have been granted transition arrangements, 270 are meat processors and 169 dairy processors.

These sectors traditionally face the greatest challenges within food processing in satisfying stringent health and safety requirements, simply because they must deal with perishable animal-based products.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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