News - June 4, 2009


The business world often fulminates against government regulations and bureaucracy. But the European dairy industry seems to be quite happy with EU regulations.

The European dairy industry, with companies such as Danone and Friesland Campina, wouldn’t swap the administrative demands of the EU’s regulations for a lower level of food safety and quality, according to a study by the LEI and Wageningen University that was commissioned by the European Commission. Researcher Krijn Poppe says, ‘In the nineteen nineties a lot of food safety regulations were drawn up in response to the BSE and dioxin crises. One example was the requirement to keep food safety records for each product. A lot of businesses react negatively to all these rules at first. But if you dig a bit deeper, it seems that they do want the consumer confidence that results from this policy. And if Brussels didn’t make the rules, the supermarkets would, and that’s a lot worse.’ These companies would also rather have the European system than the American one. In the US there are few rules, but companies can be sued in court if something goes wrong. That kind of ‘see you in court’ culture is a nightmare for European dairy multinationals. They do find European regulations limiting for innovation, though. It takes too long before a new product – one with a health claim for example – is allowed onto the European market.