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Food and animal feed safety risk analysis from 1 January 2021

Risk analysis is the process by which we assess, manage and communicate food and animal feed safety risks. It will ensure the UK continues to enjoy high standards of food and feed safety and consumer protection.
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Keeping food and feed safe 

From 1 January 2021, we will be responsible with Food Standards Scotland (FSS) for many of the functions currently carried out by the European Commission (EC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

During the transition period, all home-produced and imported food and feed products sold in the UK have to comply with EU regulations. These are mostly based on risk assessments carried out by EFSA.

Food and feed safety rules will not immediately change on 1 January 2021 as existing European legislation will move into UK law after the transition period. If the rules need to change or we need to act to protect consumers in the UK, we’ll provide independent advice and recommendations for appropriate controls based on thorough risk analysis. This will take into account the public health risks and other factors such as consumers’ wider food interests.

What is risk analysis? 

Risk analysis is a structured approach to the identification and management of public health hazards. The approach is made up of three components.

Risk assessment involves using a scientific approach to identify hazards and estimate the potential risk to human and/or animal health. This includes evaluating the likely exposure to risks from food and other relevant sources.

Risk management is the consideration of potential measures to either prevent or control the risk. It takes into account the risk assessment and other factors related to consumers’ wider interests in relation to food to identify an appropriate response.

Risk communication is the exchange of information and opinions throughout the risk analysis process between risk assessors, risk managers, consumers, industry, the academic community and other interested parties. It includes understanding the concerns of consumers and other stakeholders, the publication of risk assessment findings and other supporting evidence, and the distribution of final advice.

Enhancing our risk analysis 

We will continue to follow international best practice when considering food and feed safety risks. We’ve strengthened our approaches, and, we’ve added new elements:

  • a clear separation between our risk assessment and risk management functions
  • an expanded role for our independent Scientific Advisory Committees which we have strengthened by recruiting new experts and establishing three new joint expert groups 
  • a new process coordinated across the UK for evaluating applications for regulated products such as food and feed additives, enzymes, flavourings, genetically modified (GM) food and feed, and novel foods.

When we use risk analysis

We use risk analysis to assess the risk associated with food and feed, including chemical, microbiological, radiological and allergen risks and provide evidence-based advice and recommendations to others including ministers, consumers and enforcement officers.

From 1 January 2021, we will also receive applications for a range of regulated products and processes and will assess these using our improved risk analysis as we make recommendations to ministers for approvals or authorisations.

All regulated products with authorisation in force before 1 January 2021 will continue to remain valid in the UK.