Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - EU - 2018

Commission Press Release, 11 April 2018

RISK ASSESSMENT - Commission acts to boost trust in scientific studies on food safety

COM(2018) 179 - Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment in the food chain amending Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 [on general food law], ….

A copy of the proposal document is available on this site (click on image). Also available is a related 'Synopsis report' giving some additional background information.

The Commission is also consulting on this proposal. The consultation period ends on the 8th June 2018. For details, see:

Today the Commission is responding to the concerns expressed by citizens in a successful European Citizens' Initiative, with a proposal to improve the transparency of scientific studies in the food safety area.

The proposal, drawing also on the Commission's Fitness Check of the General Food Law, which dates back from 2002 and thus needs an update, will:

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Today we are addressing citizens' concerns, to improve transparency about decision making, to offer better access to relevant information and to ensure that trustworthy, science-based risk assessment remains at the heart of decision making in this sensitive area of food safety."

Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: "The EU's science-based risk assessment for food safety is one of the most stringent in the world. We are now making it even stronger through clearer transparency rules and more effective risk communication throughout the process. With this reform citizens will have immediate access to scientific studies supporting applications for authorisation. I call on Member States and the European Parliament to quickly turn this proposal into law, so we can deliver results for citizens before the European elections next year."

The Commission is proposing a targeted revision of the General Food Law Regulation[1] coupled with the revision of eight pieces of sectoral legislation, to bring them in line with the general rules and strengthen transparency in the area of GMOs, feed additives, smoke flavourings, food contact materials, food additives, food enzymes and flavourings, plant protection products and novel foods.

The key elements of the proposal:


In 2002, the General Food Law established the risk analysis principle as a general principle in EU food law. It created an EU food safety system in which responsibility for risk assessment (science) and for risk management (policy) are kept separate. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was established as an independent EU agency responsible for scientific advice on risks associated with the agri-food chain.

The results of a Fitness Check of the General Food Law published earlier this year confirmed that the legislation meets its core objectives of ensuring a high level of protection for human health and the smooth functioning of the Internal Market. In particular, the risk based approach to EU food law has raised the overall level of protection against potential food safety risks. However, the Fitness Check also highlighted citizens' concerns over the transparency of scientific studies and the risk assessment process in the agri-food chain.

On 6 October 2017 a European Citizens' Initiative entitled 'Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticide' was submitted to the Commission, with statements of support from 1,070,865 Europeans. One of the requests in the Initiative was to improve the transparency of scientific studies submitted to the European Food Safety Authority, and to enhance the commissioning of studies by public authorities. The Commission issued its response to this Initiative on 12 December 2017. Four successful Citizens' Initiatives have so far collected over 1 million signatures each, and the Commission has now taken follow-up action on 3 of them.

Next steps

The legislative proposals will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Member States for adoption.

The Commission aims for this proposal to be adopted still in the current legislative period, i.e. by mid-2019, for a swift implementation.

The Commission has also published the following which are available on this site (click on images):

Figure: A modern and sustainable food law in the EU
Commission's proposal on transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment model in the food chain Brussels - Fact Sheet: Questions & Answers

See also related news item:

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