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17.4.

2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 92 E/201

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2708/02 and E-2819/02
given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(25 October 2002)

The Commission received the reply from the Spanish authorities at the end of July 2002. The
documentation is quite detailed and technical and the Commission is still evaluating whether the material
covers all the issues raised in the letter of 23 May 2002 from Directorate general Environment.

(2003/C 92 E/262) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2720/02


by Stavros Xarchakos (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(30 September 2002)

Subject: Consumer health protection in Greece

In 2001, the Commission Directorate-General for Consumer Policy and Consumer Health Protection
produced two major reports concerning the production of meat-based products (DG (SANCO)/3159/2001)
and monitoring of the production of milk and dairy products (DG (SANCO)/3183/2001) in Greece.

These reports reveal shortcomings regarding the training of Greek veterinary personnel, unreliable
sampling methods, lack of cross-referencing and the unacceptable conditions of health and hygiene in
some of the establishments inspected (rusty and dilapidated equipment, dirty water used in pasteurisation
systems, rust in ventilating systems and many other problems.

The Directorate-General for Veterinary Services of the Greek Ministry for Agriculture did not dispute the
findings of the report and in its own document (No 361468 of 25 April 2001), indicated that it had no
objections to the wording thereof.

Has the Commission since drawn up any further reports or documents issuing recommendations and, if so,
what were their inferences? Does the Commission know whether action was taken to remedy the problems
revealed in its reports? Can it assure the Greek public of the stringency of food inspection procedures in
Greece and that their health is not being endangered, by for example, mad cow disease? When is the next
Commission inspection scheduled to take place and which products will be inspected?

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(11 November 2002)

Since the reports referred to, further inspection reports have been finalised by the Commission services:
Food and Veterinary Office (FVO). In the course of these inspections, weaknesses have been found in food
safety control systems in Greece. The findings and conclusions of each mission report and the related
recommendations made to the Greek authorities have been sent to the Parliament in the usual manner and
made publicly available on the Commission’s web site (http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/health_consumer/).

Over the past two years, the Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection has had discussions on
several occasions with the Greek Ministers for Agriculture and for Development, both in Brussels and in
Athens, to express the Commission’s concerns about weaknesses in food safety control systems in Greece.
He has received assurances from the Greek authorities that there is a serious and determined commitment
to correct these weaknesses without delay.

In February 2002, the Director General and senior officials of the Directorate General for Health and
Consumer Protection visited Athens to review progress in the implementation of an action programme
drawn up by the Greek authorities to respond to the recommendations in FVO reports. During that visit, it
C 92 E/202 Official Journal of the European Union EN 17.4.2003

was agreed that a progress report on implementation would be submitted on a regular basis by the Greek
authorities to the Commission. The first such report was received in April 2002. This indicated that there
has been considerable progress in a number of areas and further efforts are needed to solve identified
outstanding issues. A further report, was received in September 2002 and is now being considered by the
Commission.

Under Community legislation, the responsibility for performing food inspection in Greece rests with the
Greek authorities. The role of the Commission is to monitor how the Greek authorities are meeting their
obligations under Community law and the FVO inspections are an important part of this monitoring
process. Since the beginning of 1999, the Food and Veterinary Office of the Directorate General for Health
and Consumer Protection has, to date, carried out 39 inspections in Greece. The large majority of these
inspections have been concerned with food safety issues. As set out in the preceding paragraphs, the
Commission and the Greek authorities are working closely together to ensure adequate follow-up to the
recommendations in FVO mission reports.

The FVO plans to carry out the following inspections in Greece before the end of 2002, mainly to address
outstanding issues and verify actions taken in respect of earlier missions in Greece:

 Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE)  epidemio-surveillance, TSE testing, total feed ban,
specified risk material, follow up on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) mission of 2001 and
evaluation of TSE measures in small ruminants,

 Food production  table eggs/products,

 Food production  poultry meat/products/preparations,

 Pesticides  pesticides residues; plant protection products  marketing and use,

 Traceability of beef and beef products including a review of actions taken in respect of Rentis Market
and red meat sector,

 Disease eradication/control programmes  Bovine brucellosis eradication programme,

 Review of actions taken in respect of the ovine/caprine brucellosis eradication programme and
controls over milk production and processing.

(2003/C 92 E/263) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2722/02


by Peter Skinner (PSE) and Helle Thorning-Schmidt (PSE) to the Commission

(30 September 2002)

Subject: Council Directive 1999/38/EC and the need for further research into wood additives

The Council has passed Directive 1999/38/EC (1) in which all hardwoods were classified as carcinogenic
work materials. People engaged in the wood-treatment and wood-processing industries are still continually
exposed to wood dust, with damaging effects on their health. These have been documented in the
European list of occupational illnesses Nos 304.03 and 305.01, and elsewhere. Above all, however, it has
been shown in many epidemiological studies that certain tumours may be caused by specific types of
wood dust. However, the exact carcinogenic agent remains obscure.

In recent years, scientific attention has also been paid to chemical substances carried into wood throughout
its lifetime. Among other studies, the Heidelberg Cancer Research Centre found indications that employees
in the wood-processing industry were contaminated not only by wood dust, but also by chemical
substances (chromate) carried by wood, which subsequently penetrate the human organism via wood
dust (2). Moreover, the increased use of recycled wood infiltrates more chemical substances into the
woodworking industry.