14 November 1997

EU product liability plans put emphasis on traceability…

EUROPEAN UNION commission proposals to extend product liability to farm output will force other member states to follow the UKs lead on traceability and farm assurance, the NFU believes.

Jane Adderley, the unions legal adviser, said that if the commission was serious about extending liability to agricultural products, Europes farmers would be expected to provide traceability.

Under the latest commission plans, consumers will be able to claim compensation from the producer or importer if a link can be proved between the damage suffered, such as food poisoning, and the defective product.

EU farm commissioner Franz Fischler told a recent conference in Brussels that he wanted to hear from industry whether further rules on traceability should be introduced.

Tessa Crago, NFU head of food marketing, said the union backed the commissions proposals to extend liability to agricultural products, though it did have some reservations. Questions relating to the liability of agricultural co-operatives and the definition of the product supplier remain unanswered.

She believed UK farmers were unlikely to be significantly affected, though the plan could lead to higher insurance premiums if domestic consumers started pursuing legal cases.

The commission claims there will be no "irreversible negative impact" on agricultural economies.