Food processing companies have been among the hardest hit in Europe since the introduction of the food safety law in 2004, with a huge number of plants closing down across Europe.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said on Thursday that some 3,000 food processing plants had shut their doors since the law came into force, and it is expected the number will rise to over 5,000 by the end of next year.
The EFSA has estimated that the closure of over 10% of the world’s food processing capacity could lead to up to €200bn in lost revenue and up to 3.5 million job losses.
A study commissioned by the European Food Processing Association (EFPA) estimated that food processors lose between $4.3bn and $6.6bn in the European food processing sector each year due to food safety measures.
The European Commission said that the government should have taken stronger action to ensure that EU countries complied with the new law, and said it will be investigating the situation.
“If you look at the European Commission’s report, it says that we should have acted sooner and made sure that the rules and regulations that are in place are fully compatible with the law,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President.
In July last year, the European Parliament voted in favour of a resolution calling for the EU to introduce a new food safety regime to protect the health of its citizens.
Some food processing companies are also worried that if the legislation goes ahead, they will have to take a similar position.
If the law goes ahead and the European countries do not implement it, that will create a domino effect, said Daniel Koster, CEO of the Food Processing Industry Association of Europe (FPIAE).
“There will be a lot of pressure to close down.
We already have a lot more companies in Germany, France and Italy that have already done that,” said Koster.
Meanwhile, EU member states are still waiting to see how the new legislation will be implemented.
The UK Government has said that it will consult closely with the European Union before taking any decisions on the issue.