Food Law News - EU - 2000

1 June 2000: FOOD AUTHORITY - UK Government Supports Establishment of a European Food Authority

FSA Press Release (2000/0015), 1 June 2000

UK Government Supports Establishment of a European Food Authority - Publication of formal response to EC White Paper on Food Safety

The key attributes of a European Food Authority (EUFA) are set out today in the UK Government's formal response to an EC White Paper on Food Safety. The White Paper, published in January this year, included a proposal to establish such a Europe-wide food authority.

In its response, the Government supports the establishment of a EUFA in light of the need to adopt a more coherent and effective approach to food safety policy and decision-making at EU level.

But, says the response, there is concern that the proposals for a EUFA as set out in the White Paper do not fully address the need to integrate the processes of risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication.

The response states: "The key attributes of such a body must be scientific excellence, openness, independence of commercial interests, and a determination to act in the interests of consumers. The responsibilities and resources assigned to it must enable it to command the respect of consumers, industry, and national authorities."

Among other, more detailed comments, the response suggests that:

The response also comments on the scope and remit of the proposed authority, and says that the UK Government awaits more detailed Commission proposals on its status and accountability. It suggests that the new authority should report annually to the Council of Ministers, the Commission, and the European Parliament, as well as making such reports publicly available.

Gisela Stuart, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health - who has responsibility for food safety and standards - said today: "We have led the way in setting up the UK Food Standards Agency, which opened for business just two months ago. It is independent, and a beacon of openness and accessibility. It exists to put the consumer first by providing clear information and advice on all food-related matters. Its remit covers the whole of the food chain, from farm to fork.

"The Commission's proposals do not envisage any changes in implementation and control of food safety measures, which will remain the responsibility of Member States. But I hope that the Commission's further proposals, due out later this year, will mirror many of the principles on which our Food Standards Agency has been established."

Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: "I welcomed the EC White Paper when it was published, coincidentally on the day of my appointment as Chairman of the UK Agency, and I am pleased to do so again. Any refinement or harmonisation of food safety and standards within the European Union is to be welcomed, particularly in light of the large volume of food which is exported from this country and imported into it.

"The EUFA will need to work constructively with national food agencies and authorities, at the same time ensuring that there is no unnecessary overlap of national and pan-European responsibilities."

A copy of the full text of the UK Government's response is on provided on another page of this site:

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