Byrne bids adieu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food, Commissioner david byrne

On the eve of his departure as head of consumer protection in
Brussels, EU Commissioner David Byrne claims that public confidence
in Europe's food chain 'is returning', thanks to a raft of food
safety rules now in place.

After the food crises of the 1990s, Byrne's White Paper on Food Safety, cleared in January 2000, established a framework of new laws designed to minimise risk to the food chain and create a vigilant backdrop to Europe's €600 billion food production industry.

"Quite frankly, the progress we have made in the field of food safety has been nothing short of remarkable,"​ said Byrne this week at an agriculture council meeting in Noordwijk.

Byrne acknowledged that the food industry has borne the brunt of continual regulatory reform, and said he hoped that the state of change would stabilise.

"We do not wish to see the food industry in a state of constant flux, either as a result of crises, or due to continual regulatory reform. Indeed, we recognise that the industry needs the stability of a reliable and secure food safety system in order for it to prosper and thrive."

Speaking to the member states' agriculture ministers, the Commissioner raised the issue of risk assessment and the role this has to play in an increasingly global food trade.

"Risk posted by food products are perceived differently throughout the world. Therefore, I see it as challenge to move towards global risk assessment, accepted by all. With this goal in mind, one exciting development with significant potential is the new initiative I launched aimed at greater co-operation between our own EFSA and the FDA in the United States."

For the Irish eurocrat, common ground and guidelines at international level can be principally achieved through the UN-backed body Codex.

"This, I hope, will mark an important step on a long and ambitious strategy with the prize of global risk assessment as its ultimate goal,"​ said Bryne.

And the natural step from risk assessment is to risk management. "Let me leave you with a final thought. If we ever reach the state of global risk assessment, and the required level of mutual trust, why should we stop there? Could we perhaps then envisage global risk management as a tangible possibility?"

Cypriot Markos Kyprianou will take over the reins as commissioner for health and consumer protection.

Related topics: Policy, Food labelling

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