EU Food Regulations & Emergence of Private Standards: Implications for International Trade

European Union Food Regulations & Emergence of Private Standards: Implications for International Trade
Nov. 3, 2005, Washington, D.C.

The food safety standards in the European Union have increased in complexity, have become more stringent and specific, and are increasingly geared toward issues of quality control, process verification, traceability and labeling. These new standards also have placed most food safety risks on food businesses. As a consequence, many food companies and retailers have developed private food safety standards to control risks. These two developments, new government standards and the emergence of more private standards, have significant implications for U.S.-based food companies and will have direct and indirect impacts on U.S.-EU food trade.

Private standards emerged in recent years as a way to satisfy consumer demand for assurance that their food is safe and wholesome. Retails are going to great lengths to avoid the negative publicity (Name and Shame) of a problem with a food item. Many times, these private standards are more strict than government regulations. To enforce these standards, retailers have developed cooperative structures to manage and audit these standards. Industry trade groups are organizing to perform these services.

More than 100 industry, government and academic economists and regulatory experts attended a November 3, 2005, workshop in Washington, D.C., to examine the implications of these private standards for consumers, industry and government agencies. Farm Foundation partner with USDA’s Economic Research Service in organizing this workshop. Workshop presentations are below.

The conference examined current EU food law, its history and current enforcement structures, and the interaction of private standards with these new food laws. The difference between U.S. and EU food laws is a reflection of different perceptions of risk.

Private standards impact trade, but it is unclear that the results of current economic analysis of impacts are reliable. The results should be taken with a grain of salt. There is some evidence that these standards have an adverse impact on developing countries. There also is some evidence that standards impact simple and complex goods differently.

EU Public Regulations Versus Private Standards: Setting the Stage
European Union (EU) Food Regulations and Standards: Context, Implementation, and Cross-Border Implications, David Jukes, Reading University, United Kingdom
EU Food Safety and the Increasing Role of Private-Based Standards, Kevin Swoffer, British Retail Consortium, United Kingdom
The New EU Food Regulatory Landscape: The View from the United States
EU and U.S. Food Regulations: An Overview of Similarities and Differences, Gary Kushner, Hogan and Hartson, LLP, Washington, D.C.
The Impact of EU Changing Regulatory Environment on U.S. Food Industry: Some Examples, Peggy Rochette, National Food Processors Association, Washington, D.C.
Challenges Facing Process-Based Private Standards: The Case of Organic Products, Bob Anderson, Sustainable Strategies, Pennsylvania

SESSION III: EU Standards and International Agricultural Trade: Economic Analyses and Methods
Quantifying the Economic Impacts of Standards on Trade: An Overview of Methods and Approaches, Keith Maskus, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.
Empirical Evidence of Standards Compliance on Trade: Some Case Studies from Developing Countries, John Wilson, World Bank, Washington, D.C.Economic Analysis Dealing with Process-Based Standards, Johannes Moenius, School of Business, University of Redlands, Calif.


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