Recommendations on the transparent use of risk assessment in decisions on food safety have been welcomed by the Food Standards Agency.
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The report, agreed by the Heads of National Food Agencies in Europe (HoA), looks at how to ensure that risk assessments are used consistently and transparently in decisions on food safety in the EU.
A key conclusion is that there needs to be the same level of transparency and rigour in making risk management decisions as already exists for risk assessment, to ensure that the basis for decisions is clear. The report makes a number of recommendations for how these objectives can be achieved.
Key recommendations are that:
- national agencies share their experiences on developing and using frameworks for risk management
- the agencies work with the European Commission to develop such a framework at EU level.
The recommendations were put together by a working group of national food agencies from Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK (the FSA).
The HoA endorsed the report and agreed the recommendations at their meeting in Cyprus on 4 December 2012. The Working Group will now develop an action plan for implementing the recommendations.
FSA Chief Scientist Andrew Wadge said: ‘This is a really valuable report that addresses a key issue about how decisions affecting the food we eat are made. Scientific risk assessment is the starting point for decision making, but there are other legitimate issues such as social or economic factors that also need to be taken into account.
‘The report argues that where decision makers depart from the advice of risk assessors they need to explain their reasons rather than simply cite ‘scientific uncertainty’ or the ‘precautionary principle’. This will help build trust and confidence in the regulation of food safety.
‘The Agency welcomes the recommendations made in the report and will, as part of the working group, now help to develop the action plan and support its implementation.’
Report on the transparent use of risk assessment in decision making is available here.