Potential of action
E-commerce in food products is increasing in most Member States at a breath-taking speed. A cyber-market has formed offering every kind of food, including fresh meat and fish. Moreover, an ever-increasing variety of food supplements is being made available. Among those are products, which regularly give rise to serious health concern. There is scope for significantly stepping up the enforcement of EU food chain legislation on online sales through a much closer cooperation among food surveillance authorities and thereby responding comprehensively to the challenges of the online world without borders.
The Commission is proposing a number of measures to improve the enforcement of EU agri-food legislation on Internet sales of food products and to explore potential improvements of the current control regime. This will allow consumers to buy food online at a high level of safety and boost consumers' confidence in e-commerce, as well as foster consumer and food chain actors' information.
Description of action
The Commission provides training for the staff of food control authorities of Member States on online investigations through its 'Better Training of Safer Food' programme. To enhance cross-border cooperation between competent authorities and to increase effectiveness and efficiency of controls the Commission will organise coordinated control actions during which the Member States will focus their controls on certain food products or sectors. Once the official e-commerce control of agri-food businesses is well established in Member States, webshops and traders on e-platforms which are officially controlled in a frequency appropriate to their risks should be allowed to identify themselves as registered business by quality seals. Such a seal could be established at EU level similar to the logo for legally operating online pharmacies.
Main responsible at the European Commission
Pursuant to elements introduced by the Official Control Regulation (EU) 2017/625, control authorities can now buy products online without the need to identify themselves. They now also have the legal base to restrict access to or even close websites as well as to fight food fraud and misleading information in relation to this. The Commission has started Internet investigation training courses for official control staff in the framework of 'Better Training for Safer Food'. As regards eCommerce control, the Commission has organised a coordinated control plan to search for illegal food supplements and non-authorised novel foods in which 27 countries participated. Single contact points have been established for food control authorities of MS with all major ePlatforms offering food (eBay, Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook) and some Payment Service Providers (PayPal, Mastercard).