Food safety (BSE, Mycotoxins, etc
Increase in food poisoning
Impacts on health – good and bad
Residues: pesticides, vet. Drugs
Increase in food allergies
Food and farming issues
Environmental and sustainability issues
Social justice and fair trade issues – ‘food ethics’
Lack of trust in the food industry
Animal welfare concerns
Origin and traceability
Globalisation – ‘big’ business interest
The ‘real’ cost of food production and who pays if things go wrong
Consumers expect food to be safe
Safe food is a basic consumer right
Food safety cannot be compromised
What level of risk is acceptable?
Who decides what is ‘safe’?
Can we afford ‘safer’ food?
Are we prepared to pay for it?
Food poisoning incidence
BSE or vCJD
Contaminants e.g. dioxins, residues
Genetic modification of foods
What is an acceptable level of risk?
Who makes these decisions?
What if the experts don’t agree?…..
….and/or consumers don’t agree?
Can consumers protect themselves against food safety risks?
What happens when the level of risk is unacceptable?
In the UK and Europe there is lack of consumer confidence and trust in:
food producers inc. farmers
regulators and enforcers
Should I stop eating beef now?
What about other meats – lamb/turkey/
How do I decide what the risks are ?
Who do I trust to inform me?
Who is protecting me?
How are they doing it?
Are the controls effective?
Can I trust the controls and information?
Can I really trust others to ensure that I am protected?
If not, what is my responsibility to protect myself?
Can I understand the risks and am prepared to take them?
Consumers are confused about what is safe to eat
Consumers are not and have not been adequately protected from unsafe food
Consumers now questioning how food is produced
Consumers aware that there are many‘UNKNOWNS’ about food safety e.g.
BSE and vCJD
As a consequence PRECAUTIONARY ACTIONS MUST be taken
Public health interests must always be placed above trade interests
More research is needed for all to be better informed
Communications must be clear, open timely – no secrets
TRUST should be established in communicators, regulators, enforcers
Things might change as more is known, which will need further communication and information
Precautionary measures are paramount
Controls measures fully enforced – 100%
Better surveillance and compliance
Education and information essential
Consumers want to know more about the origin of foods especially meat to make informed choices – country of origin, etc - full information should be available for ALL types of products – not only fresh meat
Current knowledge explained clearly, uncertainties and risks communicated, including public health measures
Learn from the lessons in the UK and BSE
Vol. 1 Ch. 14: BSE Inquiry, Phillips Report
Everyone agreed that the Government had a problem with credibility
…. A policy of openness is the correct approach
….The Government must resist the temptation of attempting to appear to have all the answers in a situation of uncertainty
….food scares…thrive on a belief that the Government is withholding information
If doubts are openly expressed and publicly explored, the public are capable of responding rationally
…. And are more likely to accept reassurance and advice if, and when, it comes
To establish credibility it is necessary to generate trust – Trust can only be generated by openness
Openness requires recognition of uncertainty, where it exists
The importance of precautionary measures should not be played down on the grounds that the risk is unproved
The public should be trusted to respond rationally to openness
Scientific investigation of risk should be open and transparent
The advice and the reasoning of (advisory) committees should be made public
Risk assessment should involve and make explicit the ‘up stream’ non scientific assumptions used in framing any assessment
Policy makers need to take into account broader economic, political, social and ethical considerations
Engage the public/stakeholders in dialogue at all stages in an open transparent manner
Explain the trade-offs, how decisions are made an on what basis – benefits of reducing possible risks and costs of interventions
Policy makers need to make explicit their reasoning and assumptions behind decision-making
Transparency, consultation and communication are key throughout the process – not only at the end of the process
Where policy is changed or, in an emergency – explain the action to ensure compliance and understanding of the new actions required
Consumers health is at risk (from BSE and other food safety problems)
The extent of some risks is not known nor quantifiable
Explain what is know and what is not known and whey these difference exist
Ensure the highest level of precaution is employed, proportionate to the risks and explain this
Trust consumers with all the information to make informed decisions (or not – as they wish)
Ensure that consumers are involved at all stages of the risk analysis process – not merely communicated the policies at the end of the process
Breakdown the barriers between consumers, scientists, regulators, enforces and trade interests
Investments in food safety and quality pay dividends in the long run!
Fresher – for longer
Good Value for money
Clean and Green
To provide consumers with safe foods
Of the quality and quantity they want,
at a price they are willing to pay,
when, and where they want to buy it!
Food producers and retailers need to be able to adapt, to respond to (and predict) consumer trends
To communicate with consumes about how food is produced
To demonstrate and deliver consistent food safety and quality
Spending on food (as part of the family budget is reducing)
More food is eaten away from home
Traditional markets are changing rapidly
Competition is fierce from domestic and foreign producers
Food Safety, trade regulations and agricultural policies must be able to meet these challenges
Gain and maintain consumer confidence – if lost it is not easy to restore
Food Safety and Consumer Interests must come first
- good for consumers and good for business!