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New Food Scandal shows need for early warning system - Lynn Boylan MEP

15 February, 2015 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan has expressed concern following the withdrawal of foods thought to contain nuts instead of cumin seeds from a supermarket chain in Ireland.  

"The possibility that nut shells have been substituted for cumin seeds as a result of a global shortage of cumin is particularly worrying given the potential for allergic reaction to nuts.

"While it is too early to say if this is definitely a case of fraud or accidental, it once again highlights the complexities of modern food production chains and the need for an early warning system.

"Following the horsemeat scandal I called on the then Minister of Health to establish such a system that would be on the lookout for emerging food safety issues.  All that this would require is a forum where stakeholders in the food industry could confidentially report issues of concern and share information.  This would allow for possible problems or potential fraud to be flagged much earlier. 

"In the case of the horsemeat scandal, there were lots of warning signs but no facility whereby the information could be shared or concerns brought to light.  In the case of a cumin seed shortage, food producers and importers would be the first to know this and therefore in a position to flag any concerns they may have with cumin suppliers or the cost of cumin not reflecting the shortage.

"I am now calling on the new Minister for Health, Leo Varadker to revisit the idea of establishing such a body."

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