Interactions between risk assessors and risk managers during three major food incidents in Europe

M. Focker*, B.H.P. van den Borne, M. Fischer, E. Schuh, A. Mader, M.G. Andersson, B.M. Ali, H.J. van der Fels-Klerx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Abstract: Risk analysis consists of risk assessment (RA), risk management (RM), and risk communication (RC). In most countries, RA and RM of food safety are separated to achieve a high scientific integrity, and typically occur in sequential order. However, in case of a food safety incident, even though being separate processes, RA and RM are performed simultaneously due to great time pressure and expected high impacts. The aim of this study was to analyze and evaluate the observed interactions between RA and RM processes, during three major food incidents in Europe, and to provide suggestions for possible improvement. Based on the differences observed between the three cases, strengths and weaknesses of each system have been identified. The enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) crisis in 2011 in Germany, the horsemeat scandal in 2013 in Ireland, and the fipronil incident in 2017 in the Netherlands were used as case studies. Timelines of these incidents and crisis management procedures in place in each of the three countries provided the basis for further analysis. First, results showed that details of the communication processes between RA and RM bodies were frequently lacking in crisis management protocols. Second, RA, RM, and RC processes differed for each incident, due to differences in estimated risk for public health, but also due to differences in the organization within a country. Based on our results, we recommend that crisis management protocols should contain a section on communication between RA, RM, and on communication between member states in the EU.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3611-3627
JournalJournal of Food Science
Volume86
Issue number8
Early online date15 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • chemical food safety
  • food safety
  • mycotoxins
  • public health
  • toxicology

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