After the BSE crisis and the ongoing concerns about GM foods, it is
no surprise that public confidence in food safety is at an all time
The Consumers’ Association web site, Which?Online, tackles two current
food safety-related issues in the ’latest releases’ section of its
The association responds to the White Paper on Food Safety, the European
Commission’s blueprint for future food legislation, and challenges the
chair of the the Food Standards Agency on UK food safety.
Although the association welcomes the paper as ’long overdue’ it warns
that public health must be the focus of the commission’s attention.
Central to the White Paper are proposals for an independent European
Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the Consumers’ Association sets out
what it sees as potential problems if the authority is not given enough
One of its main concerns is that the EFSA will only be given
responsibility for assessing and communicating food risks, but none for
deciding how the risks should be managed.
The association claims that it should also be able to exert influence at
all stages of the food chain and have responsibility for food safety and
standards including labelling if it is to be effective in any way.
In another press release the CA expresses disappointment that the
Government’s original plans to appoint a consumer chair of the Food
Standards Agency were not carried through. Sheila McKechnie, director of
the Consumers’ Association calls for the Government to fill the
remaining places on the board with people who are credible to
Visitors to the site can go to the on-line forums sections which include
Content Forums - where visitors can discuss Which on-line reports, ask
questions about the findings and share knowledge and experience with
other Which?Online users. The Armadillo forum invites visitors to ’give
free rein to your thoughts, views or opinions on any subject you
Many ordinary internet users see on-line forums as the easiest way to
find the information they need on a particular subject, so some visitors
might be put off by discovering that the Which? Online Forums are only
available to subscribers. This would have been an ideal place to allow
’free’ debate of the issues covered in the latest releases.
As an organisation with plenty of influence the Consumers’ Association
is viewed by members of the public as standing up for the rights of
those people who don’t have a voice - much in the same way as the BBC’s
Watchdog programme does. So to exclude some people from sections of the
site because they may not want to sign up to Which? is rather
Organisation: The Consumers’ Association
Issue: Food standards in the UK and Europe