Belgium faces EU legal action over food scare

EU Commission says Belgium neglected its duties over dioxin-contaminated food

The European Commission has started legal proceedings against Belgium for its inaction over the recent dioxin-contaminated food scare. The Commission claims that Belgium breached two EU food safety directives when it failed to inform the EU executive as soon as it knew that dioxins had entered the food chain (ENDS Daily 2 June). The Belgian government knew about the contamination - which had originated in an animal feed supplier's plant - in April but did not release the information until the end of May. EU laws require member states to inform the Commission about contaminated food and animal feed that might be exported within the EU. The Commission also says that actions taken by Belgium after a binding EU decision to withdraw potentially contaminated food from the market were inadequate. Belgium is accused of failing to withdraw suspect milk and some meat products - something which it is now trying to put right. The Commission said Belgium now had ten days to respond to the accusations. However, the infringement proceedings are being interpreted as a token gesture by the Commission, which feels under pressure to be seen to be taking a hard line on the issue. According to Commission sources, the issue is unlikely to get as far as the European Court of Justice.

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