European Policy on Food Safety

01-09-2000

This Report is written for the European Parliament - Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) as a response to the Commission’s 2000 Food Safety White Paper. The White Paper made a series of major proposals, including a plan to set up a new European Food Authority (EFA). This STOA report analyses the background and technical arguments in the White Paper. A review is conducted of key issues in food-related public health, which the EFA will have to address. These include diet-related nutritional diseases, food poisoning, food quality and adulteration issues, chemical contamination, and problems raised by some new foods and processes. Developments in the role of science and technological information in policy-making on food and health matters are reviewed. In particular, the relationship between risk assessment, management and communication is explored. The proposed division of responsibilities between EFA and DG SANCO over those functions are judged to be inconsistent and may be unrealistic. A number of managerial issues need more attention, particularly enforcement, monitoring, data collection, lines of responsibility, and performance indicators. The EFA needs to have clear guidance as to how to manage uncertainty and conflicts of interest, and how and when (and by whom) a precautionary approach should be exercised. The report highlights a problem in levels of food governance. Relations between the EFA and DG SANCO, Member States and local authorities, and global bodies all need better liaison and terms of reference. A clear management structure is needed. A proposal is made for setting performance indicators and to ensure stakeholder consultation. The relationship between the EFA and the Food and Veterinary Office is discussed, as is the core challenge of how to link nutrition and food safety to give a consumer-friendly public health policy for Europe.

This Report is written for the European Parliament - Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) as a response to the Commission’s 2000 Food Safety White Paper. The White Paper made a series of major proposals, including a plan to set up a new European Food Authority (EFA). This STOA report analyses the background and technical arguments in the White Paper. A review is conducted of key issues in food-related public health, which the EFA will have to address. These include diet-related nutritional diseases, food poisoning, food quality and adulteration issues, chemical contamination, and problems raised by some new foods and processes. Developments in the role of science and technological information in policy-making on food and health matters are reviewed. In particular, the relationship between risk assessment, management and communication is explored. The proposed division of responsibilities between EFA and DG SANCO over those functions are judged to be inconsistent and may be unrealistic. A number of managerial issues need more attention, particularly enforcement, monitoring, data collection, lines of responsibility, and performance indicators. The EFA needs to have clear guidance as to how to manage uncertainty and conflicts of interest, and how and when (and by whom) a precautionary approach should be exercised. The report highlights a problem in levels of food governance. Relations between the EFA and DG SANCO, Member States and local authorities, and global bodies all need better liaison and terms of reference. A clear management structure is needed. A proposal is made for setting performance indicators and to ensure stakeholder consultation. The relationship between the EFA and the Food and Veterinary Office is discussed, as is the core challenge of how to link nutrition and food safety to give a consumer-friendly public health policy for Europe.

Awtur estern

Antonia Trichpoulou (University of Athens, School of Medicine, Greece)