Different Actors, Different Factors – Science and Other Legitimate Factors in the EU and National Food Safety Regulation

According to the principle of risk analysis established by Regulation 178/2002, food safety measures in the EU and Member States must be based on scientific risk assessment. Apart from science, however, decision makers should take into account other legitimate factors, such as societal, ethical or traditional concerns. The extent to which risk managers can deviate from scientific evaluations in considering these factors depends on how much discretion is conferred on public authorities. This article compares the discretion at both national and Union levels of food safety regulation in the context of the internal market mechanism by analysing the standard review applied to food safety measures by the European judiciary.

Risk regulation interferes with market mechanisms to protect interests such as health and the environment. 1 Regulation in these fields relies heavily on technical expertise. Risk analysis is a methodology incorporating science into the decision making process, where risk managers take regulatory decisions based on the scientific risk assessment provided by experts. Clearly, science is not able to take responsibility for all decisions for society. Apart from scientific risk assessment, decision makers must also take into account different interests and concerns of social, economic or ethical character, including, e.g., consumer risk perception, animal welfare, and traditional methods of production. In the risk analysis methodology established by Regulation 178/2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety (the so-called General Food Law, hereinafter also referred to as the GFL)2 these concerns, considered at the risk management stage, are recognized as “other legitimate factors”. Despite the growing controversy about whether and to what extent risk managers, by taking into account non-scientific factors, may decide against the findings of risk assessment, the role of these factors in EU food safety governance is not clearly formulated.

Copyright: © Lexxion Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Quelle: Issue 04/2011 (Dezember 2011)
Seiten: 17
Preis inkl. MwSt.: € 41,65
Autor: PhD Anna Szajkowska

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