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EU food hygiene Regulations and 'slow' cheese production - principle and practice

essedra

SE Europe Workshop

Date: Sunday, 22/09/13
Location: "House of Biodiversity", Cortile delle Scuole Maschili, Via Marconi, Bra

Ensuring that consumers have access to safe, healthy food is a legitimate concern of government everywhere. However an inflexible, inappropriate implementation model not only achieves no extra safeguarding of public health, but also, in putting small traditional producers out of business, it can perversely reduce the volumes of high quality food on the market. At the same time, massive damage can be done to green rural economies and high nature value farming systems.

Producers of traditional processed food products in SE Europe and Turkey are particularly threatened as their governments try to incorporate EU laws into domestic legislation within a very short time. Capacity to do so sensitively is low, and in many countries, the Communist era has left a legacy of civil servants with a rigid mentality which puts a high value on ‘industrial’ approaches to agriculture and food. In some countries, the small producers who supply the vast majority of traditional foods are not even considered proper farmers in official eyes!

This gloomy assessment of the dangers facing the Balkans and Turkey is not based on a patronising assessment of some unique regional deficiencies, but on the actual experience of existing EU Member States, some of which have implemented the food hygiene rules in exactly such an inflexible and inappropriate way, thereby managing to decimate significant elements of their traditional food production!

It was to learn from such mistakes, as well as from some good examples of how to implement the same rules, that this workshop was organised in the framework of the ESSEDRA project. The event was able to hear directly from the European Commission on what flexibility is contained in the legislation itself. There were also talks from a range of different actors from a variety of Member States – farmers, trainers, veterinary administrators, commentators.

The partners’ intention, and that of our collaborator, the FACE Network, is to ensure that this workshop is just the start of a fruitful collaboration which will help safeguard some unique cheeses, cheese-based cultures and farming systems and pastures which are intimately related to traditional cheese production in SE Europe.

Programme


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Essedra is a Slow Food-led project and is part-funded by the European Commission (DG Enlargement)



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This event was organised with the assistance of the Farmhouse and Artisan Cheese-makers of Europe (FACE) network



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