Regulatory impact assessment of food safety policies: A preliminary study on alternative EU interventions on dioxins
Regulatory impact assessment (RIA) for food safety policy interventions faces major obstacles, like scarce data availability and quality, especially when estimating their future effects on consumer health. In this paper, we run a preliminary RIA exercise on alternative EU policy initiatives to address the problem of dioxins in food, through a fuzzy multi-criteria analysis (FMCA) approach. 5 policy options are considered: the status quo situation (non-harmonised and non-efficient application of EU mandatory maximum levels in food and feed across Member States), a regulation imposing stricter (halved) limits, a stricter enforcement of the current regulation, and a co-regulatory version of the fourth option (with industry undertaking their own testing, and public authorities provide auditing and controls in a harmonized effort across all EU countries). A structured qualitative assessment of the considered options is performed regarding 14 categories of potential impacts, with consideration of uncertainty in the assessment. Different weights are assigned to each impact category to reflect the importance of some impacts compared to others. Finally, policy options are compared on a pairwise basis and ranked through a FMCA, considering uncertainties in qualitative assessment and explicit weights assigned to impact categories. Our preliminary results show that, among the 5 policy options considered, the ‘co-regulation’ approach appears to be the preferable option.
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