lawmakers, and vice versa, without an
existing clear procedure between the
two bodies. The importance of a greater
integration of generally agreed [upon]
scientific facts into the law, in real time,
so the food regulations are updated together with the scientific progress, discoveries, and changes, should be more
strongly emphasized. GHI is a network
of individual scientists, able to check
whether it is possible to establish global
scientific consensus concerning food
safety aspects propping up food legislation.
Another aspect that is slowing down
the possibility of having globally harmonized food safety standards is the
lack of harmonized legal terms. It is
crucial to understand that, in different countries and different languages,
terms can have different meanings
and thus different applications. Such
misunderstandings can set barriers to
food trade, despite that, in reality, the
measures taken are the same, but they
are just presented differently. Last but
not least, Global Harmonization Initiative is working on simplifying the data
obtained by scientists, without cutting
corners or losing the scientific truths
and facts, but to make it understandable
at all levels, by all people. The reason
for such an endeavor is creating tools
for education and training available and
digestible by everybody, because equipping people with information can lead
to protecting them.
LL: Different requirements of food
safety in different countries. n
We would like to thank all the panelists for
their insightful comments and engaging
and allowed ingredients (novel foods, GMOs, food additives).
AAB: ISO 22000 can be taken into account as a starting point to structure possible food safety aspects and issues, as its recent actual framework strives to encompass real-time pitfalls of food safety management systems. As ISO standards address
recent developments and requirements for food products and food processes, the
rationale can be taken into consideration as a model to always incorporate freshly
obtained and generally agreed [upon] scientific facts into the food regulations. In
addition, the idea to integrate in a single
standard all the possible areas of food
safety, from farm to fork, including food
processing and handling or inspections,
can be kept in mind when addressing the
complexity of the food chain and the converging potential risks.
ISO 22000 is, however, in the end,
a private standard, so its ownership and
management is by the private sector. It
should be accessible by all countries and
be operational for businesses at all levels. A more active cooperation with the public
sector authorities is needed, so to provide transparency and trustworthiness of the
standard, as well as to ensure the requirements listed are in line with the regulatory
provisions, as well as with the (financial) capacities of each country. In fact, if scientific consensus is achieved with regards to various areas of food safety and the result
is integrated into the law, the necessity of a private standard becomes questionable.
Most standards are known to use stricter metrics to ensure food safety; however, the
scientific basis for using the chosen numbers or measures should be generally accepted and recognized, to avoid overregulation.
LL: It does not satisfy the requirements. The ISO 22000 standard only builds a
management system model. International coordination needs to identify and import
more food safety policies and standards, as well as professionals who fully understand the food safety requirements of countries (regions) to support.
FSM: (“And if not” from the last question) What do you feel is the greatest impediment to harmonization of food safety standards and why?
RA: The greatest threat to this progress toward global convergence around
food safety is the increasing role that consumer preference plays in regulatory and
standard-setting processes. “Preference” is a very different concept than “safe,” and
unfortunately some countries increasingly apply equal weight to both when making regulatory decisions and when participating in the international standard-setting
process. This approach devalues the enormous effort that companies and countries
invest to produce and regulate safe food. It is also ultimately more detrimental to
food security than many in the developed world care to recognize because it spuriously limits market access and market opportunities for safe products.
CB: Cultural and historical factors that are not based on science can be powerful
determinants related to the rejection of international standards. Other challenges
include rapidly developing new food technologies and new models for how food is
processed, packaged, and delivered to consumers.
BVDM: Democracy. Governments do as they think is best for their people.
International trade and harmonization may be taken into account but other considerations as well, such as the fact that countries all claim that safety requirements are
based on risk analysis, that is, on science, but very few seem willing to accept each
other’s scientific assessments.
AAB: An important obstacle in harmonizing food safety standards is represented
by the defective communication and cooperation between the scientists and the
China: “Food safety needs
continuous improvement, and
innovation and investment need to