Blog: Dean Best(Food) safety first

Dean Best | 22 November 2007

There were some illuminating quotes from a European food safety summit held this week in Brussels to mark the fifth anniversary of the creation of the EU’s food standards watchdog.

The European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) welcomed 500 scientists and industry experts to air their views on issues ranging from nanotechnology to additives and from labelling to food-borne infections.

Nanotechnology and additives both seem to be focusing the minds of those in Europe at the moment.

As European food regulation specialists EAS argue, industry will continue to plough money into research into nanotechnology but, as yet, Europe’s food regulators are finding it tough to draw up guidelines to police the burgeoning sector.

And the additives debate continues to rage. Early next year, EFSA will publish its assessment of a UK study that claims to show a link between food colourings and hyperactivity in children.

The report, published in September, seemed to breathe fresh life into a debate that has raged for years.

Food companies will no doubt be concerned that if EFSA backs the study, regulation will follow. Companies and retailers have made moves to remove some additives but there could be governmental pressure for the EU to take a stronger line on the issue.

As EFSA executive director Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle said: "Few issues are as central to our lives as the safety of the food we enjoy each day.”

Pressure on the food industry – on issues like the use of additives and nanotechnology in food – is only likely to intensify.


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