Pan European conference on food safety and quality, Budapest, Hungary 25 - 28 February 2002
Foreword (from final report)
Concerns over food safety and quality are increasing worldwide. They are priority issues for governments, food producers, industry, traders and consumers alike. The burden of foodborne disease is significant in all parts of the world, and for some important foodborne hazards the reported incidence of disease seems to have increased over the last decades. In the European region, food safety problems in recent years have increasingly threatened public health and undermined consumer confidence in some crucial parts of the food supply. It has also had severe economic impact on farmers and food producers in the region. The effects of these concerns have signalled a strong need for member countries to strengthen the food safety and quality systems in a sustainable way, with a view to reducing the level of foodborne disease, to restore the confidence of consumers and to improve the conditions of food production and trade within the region and beyond.
The 22nd FAO Regional Conference for Europe held in Porto in June 2000, welcomed the initiative of The Netherlands, to strengthen and harmonize food safety and quality policies across the European region and so improve conditions for public health and international food trade.
Therefore the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization jointly convened the first Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality. The Conference was held in Budapest from 25 – 28 February 2002 at the invitation of the Government of Hungary. Over 200 delegates from 46 European countries, the European Commission and observer organizations participated to discuss food safety and quality concerns of specific interest to Europe.
Several delegations developed comprehensive background documents on food safety and quality issues in Europe and many others provided Conference room documents with important information on food safety and quality concerns in their countries. The participants discussed about opportunities for cooperation in policy and research development and about improvement of information and communication systems. They jointly identified ways to improve food safety and quality situations in the region and provided a final report with recommendations. These recommendations focus on harmonization of food safety and quality regulations, strengthening food inspections and surveillance and improving transparency of food safety control systems across Europe. As most of the knowledge and experience in food safety and quality issues is present in the European region, the Conference saw intra-regional cooperation between countries and organizations as a basis for improvements.
The first Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality offered an excellent platform to discuss European food safety and quality concerns. It brought governments and organizations together to jointly find solutions for problems that affect all consumers in the European region and beyond.