Managing food safety risks is a top priority for any food business. Damaging headlines, whether over food poisoning or contamination scares, are bad for business.

While regulations on new technologies such as GM crops, cloning and nanotechnology are criticised by some for stifling innovation, there remains confusion over the real nature of regulatory controversies. Far from being simply ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ science or technology, many of the most serious and intractable issues concern the appropriate directions in which to steer innovation.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) were set up to establish better approaches to assessing and managing food risks. They were also an attempt to separate the ‘science’ from the ‘politics’ of decision-making. Despite the value of these aspirations, the challenge lies in whether they are always met in practise.

The March 2012 meeting of the Food Ethics Council Business Forum explored these questions of how to manage existing and emerging risks and where ethics fit in decision making.

We are very grateful to our speakers, Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist at the Food Standards Agency and Andy Stirling, Research Director for SPRU and the Management School at the University of Sussex. The meeting was chaired by Michelle Harrison, CEO of TNS-BMRB and a member of the FEC.

Download a report of the forum