10 January 2000
EC to unveil food safety plan

THE European Commission will unveil plans to set up an independent food safety authority this week, according to the Financial Times.

Details of the pan-European authority are to be outlined in a white paper on food safety.

The white paper is expected to urge the case for a comprehensive shake-up of legislation on food safety. It will cover animal feedstuffs and medicines, food traceability and product liability.

The commission is also to promise new laws on the labelling of food free of genetically modified products.

But critics see the new food safety authority as hampered by not having decision-making and law-making powers.

These will remain in the hands of the commission, member states governments and the European parliament.

Its main roles would be advisory — gathering scientific information, issuing opinions and recommendations and communicating with consumers.

The need for such an organisation is viewed as essential to revive the faith of consumers following concerns raised by BSE, dioxin contamination and the use of sewage sludge in animal feed.