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Food: Bowland Dairy Products

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action the Food Standards Agency will be taking over the sanctions imposed by the European Commission on Bowland Dairy Products Ltd; and [HL7847]

Whether the Food Standards Agency agrees with the European Commission’s decision to issue emergency measures against Bowland Dairy Products Limited, which resulted in a European Union-wide product recall and the closure of the business; and [HL7848]

Whether they and the Food Standards Agency will be defending any legal action taken against them by the European Commission in connection with Bowland Dairy Products Limited.[HL7849]

Statutory measures have been taken in all four countries of the United Kingdom. These implement Commission Decision 2006/694/EC,

“prohibiting the placing on the market of curd cheese manufactured in a processing establishment in the United Kingdom”.

The United Kingdom fully shares the Commission’s desire to protect public health but was unable to support its proposed measure when it was accepted by member states by a qualified majority in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 6 October, because of genuine differences of view on the science. The Commission has now undertaken to consider the scientific issues with all interested parties.

On 16 October, the Government received aletter from the European Commission, issued under Article 226 of the Treaty of Rome, as amended, setting out the Commission's view that the United Kingdom has failed to correctly enforce the relevant provisions of Regulations (EC) Nos. 853/2004, 178/2002 and 882/2004. The response from the United Kingdom authorities was sent on 23 October, and itis under consideration by the Commission. The response indicates that the Food Standards Agency has advised the industry and the enforcement authorities of a revised approach to the application of EU hygiene rules in the dairy sector which is in line with that taken by the Commission in the decision.

The Government's position on any legal action that may be taken against them in this matter would depend on the full grounds set out for that action.