Transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment in the food chain

Transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment in the food chain

In April 2018 the European Commission officially proposed a targeted revision of the General Food Law Regulation (see summary of the public consultation).

Commission responded this way 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, will:

  • Give citizens greater access to information submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on approvals concerning the agri-food chain,
  • provide the possibility for additional studies to be requested by the Commission and will involve the EU countries' scientists more closely in approval procedures. 

The Commission is proposing a targeted revision of the General Food Law Regulation 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:

  • Ensure more transparency, by allowing citizens to have automatic and immediate access to all safety related information submitted by industry in the risk assessment process
  • Create a common European Register of commissioned studies, to guarantee that companies applying for an authorisation submit all relevant information, and do not hold back unfavourable studies
  • Allow additional studies to be requested by the European Food Safety Authority, upon request of the Commission and financed by the EU budget
  • Require consultation of stakeholders and the public on studies submitted by industry to support product authorisation requests
  • Increase the EU countries​' involvement in the European Food Safety Authority's governance structure and scientific panels
  • Strengthens risk communication to citizens, with common actions to enhance consumer confidence by promoting public awareness and understanding and better explaining scientific opinions expressed by the European Food Safety Authority, as well as the basis of risk management decisions

For further information, please check:

 

Background Information

Since the adoption of the General Food Law Regulation in 2002 the political, economic and societal context has evolved, affecting consumers' perception and expectations in relation to the food chain.

Regarding the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) work, citizens have started to question the risk assessments based on studies provided by the industry and, in particular, where the industry seeks an authorisation (e.g. for pesticides, GMOs, etc.).

This initiative on the 'Transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment in the food chain' follows the findings of the Fitness Check of the General Food Law and the Commission Communication on the European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) "Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides".

In the context of this ECI, the Commission committed to come forward with a legislative proposal covering the transparency and independence of the scientific studies that are the basis of the EU risk assessment of regulated products and substances carried out by EFSA, as well as other aspects, such as the governance of EFSA.

The Roadmap

The Commission published on 20 December 2017 a Roadmap on the transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment in the food chain. This roadmap is a first step in the legislative process and outlines the purpose, content and scope of the initiative.

Feedback received during the first four weeks after publication of the roadmap will be considered in the design of the initiative. Whether feedback received after that period can be taken into account will depend on the type of feedback and the status of the legislative process at the time of receipt.

Feedback received may be accessed here.

Consultation Strategy

The consultation strategy can be accessed here.

Consultation steps:

Contact

Directorate D (Food chain: stakeholder and international relations), unit D1: Science, stakeholders, enforcement

Email: SANTE-SCIENCE-TRANSPARENCY@ec.europa.eu