A group bringing together consumers, the food industry, retailers and farmers is being created to facilitate consultation and dialogue between the European Commission and European organisations on food safety policy.
The Advisory Group on the Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health will meet at least twice a year and consist of up to 45 members from EU-level associations. Reflecting the Commission’s “farm to fork” approach to food safety, the group will be consulted on a wide range of food policy matters. Additionally, the Commission intends to create an Internet based consultative forum on food safety open to all European organisations with an interest in this area of policy. The new Advisory Group is likely to meet for the first time towards the end of this year.
David Byrne, the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said “Debate and dialogue with stakeholders helps strengthen the quality of our policy making and is an essential component of good governance. Over the past few years the EU has put in place a world class system of food safety regulation. It is appropriate that today we also modernise our system for consulting on food safety.”
European level associations representing food producers, food processors, retailers and consumers are being invited to apply for membership to the Advisory Group on the Food Chain and Animal and Plant Health. For details of how to apply, visit the web address given below.
The new Advisory Group replaces five existing consultative bodies – the Advisory Committee on Foodstuffs, plus the standing groups on veterinary matters, plant health, animal welfare and feedingstuffs previously attached to the Advisory Committee on Agricultural Product Health and Safety. The Advisory Group should not be confused with the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health which is a Committee composed of Member States representatives assisting the Commission in the legislative process. The new Advisory Group will focus on strategies on food safety policies and will be complemented by consultation exercises on individual subjects as is the practice today.
The Commission will further convene ad hoc working groups of the Advisory Committee with the purpose of collecting, at an initial or more advanced stage in the legislative process, more technical contributions from the different fields involved or with the purpose of providing information on the implementation of existing food law. It can, for instance, be anticipated that there would be a working group on food labelling, and one on biotechnology. Participation in the working groups will be open to members of the Advisory Group but it will further be possible to invite as observers other interested bodies or parties, including interested parties from non-Member States.
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