Food fraud is not a new phenomenon. Scandals such as the "rapeseed oil" fraud intended for industrial use (1981), milk adulterated with melamine in China resulting in thousands of sick babies (2008), methanol poisoning from the sale of illegal spirits in the Czech Republic and Poland (2012-2014), horse meat in beef products (2013), fipronil in eggs (2017) and the slaughter of sick cows (2019) have drawn worldwide attention. Cases of food fraud are on the rise worldwide. The Swiss Federal Commission for Consumer Affairs (Eidgenössische Kommission für Konsumentenfragen, "EKK") recently issued a report in which it refers to the increasing number of food fraud cases detected in the EU - and questions why the numbers in Switzerland are not increasing likewise. The answer of the EKK is: Regulation (EU) 2017/625 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products ("Control Regulation") entered into force December 2019, and it extents legal possibilities to carry out risk-oriented controls for the protection of food safety by the detection of possible fraudulent and misleading practices. Implementing the Control Regulation, the heads of the Member States' Food Safety Agencies established a working group to fight against food fraud - and this starts to pay off. It is unlikely that there are no or (proportionally) less food fraud cases in Switzerland compared to the EU. As a high-price island with arguably bigger margins, Switzerland likely is particularly interesting to food fraudsters. But while in the EU, with stricter legal provisions and increase of controls, the number of (detected) food fraud cases increased over the past years, we do not see a corresponding increase in Switzerland. Why is that the case? The reasons may be manifold: Lack of legal basis to take (efficient) action, lack of personnel to carry out controls, insufficient exchange of data between Cantonal authorities, and penalties which may not be sufficiently deterrent. The EKK made a recommendation to the Federal Council to form an inter-authority expert commission. This task force shall ensure coordination and exchange of information between competent authorities within Switzerland and with the EU, and create a legal basis to better combat food fraud in Switzerland. Recommendations of the EKK are not binding, so we will have to wait and see how the Federal Council will react.
Lebensmittelbetrug: Schweiz schaut nicht genau hin Laut der Eidgenössischen Kommission für Konsumentenfragen fehlt es an gesetzlichen Grundlagen – und am Kontrollpersonal.