Transparency of food chain risk assessments

On 11 July, the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee considered a Proposal to update the General Food Law in order to increase transparency and public confidence in the scientific studies used as the basis for food risk assessments.

The Proposal would mean that when an application is made to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to authorise a substance, the supporting data would have to be published. It would then be consulted on, to identify whether additional data exists that should inform the risk assessment. A register of studies that have been conducted on substances subject to the food law authorisation system would also be established, to ensure EFSA has access to the broadest possible scientific evidence. The Proposal also includes measures to bring the EFSA's governance structure in line with other agencies, to attract more scientific experts to EFSA panels and to improve risk communication.

The UK Government, in its Explanatory Memorandum, raised concerns that the Proposals could place additional burdens on businesses and Member States, and could increase political involvement in the EFSA. Members decided to write to the Minister to ask for further details of these concerns, and also what plans the Government had to introduce aspects of this Proposal when the UK leaves the EU.

Update: on 31 October 2018, the Committee considered the Minister’s response to their letter which outlined some of the concerns he has about the Proposal. The Committee wrote back to ask to be kept updated on the UK’s negotiations with the Commission over their concerns, and whether there are any aspects of the Proposal that the Government would like to introduce in the UK if it leaves the EU before the Proposal comes in to force.

Update: on 24 January 2019, Members considered the Minister’s latest letter. He explained that there had been a number of revisions to the Proposal, and that these alleviated the Government’s concerns. The Committee therefore decided to release the Proposal from scrutiny, but requested an update once the final text is agreed.

Update: on 4 September 2019, Members considered the Minister’s latest letter. It informs the Committee that only technical amendments were made during trilogue negotiations. The Committee therefore agreed to close correspondence on this matter.

Letters to the Minister

Letters from the Minister

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