The 14 July 2004, by Naomi Salmon,
Lecturer in Law,
Department of Law,
University of Wales,
In the wake of the series of food crises that characterised the latter years of the 20th Century, food policy has been singled out as a key area of activity at both the regional and the national level. In light of both the practical and economic importance of the EU agro-food sector, maintaining high standards of food quality and safety must obviously be a priority for European, national and local public authorities charged with responsibility for overseeing the food production and distribution chain - ‘from farm to table.’ The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) facilitates the rapid dissemination of information relating to food safety issues arising anywhere within the EU to the relevant authorities across all twenty five Member States and, where necessary, those based in third countries.
As a mode of instantaneous communication, the internet clearly has an important role to play in linking the various stakeholders having an interest in, and responsibility for, consumer protection in the context of the food market. This paper considers the RASFF from the perspective of the lowest tier of public authority in the UK - the Local Authority - and assesses the role of the internet in promoting a coherent, effective and efficient response to food risks at this level - the ‘front line’ of consumer protection.
1. Introduction: Food and the EU
a) Food Safety: the challenges facing national and EU authorities responsible for protecting the consumer.
b) Recent developments: the European Commission’s White Paper on Food Safety COM (1999) 719 final and the overhaul of EU food safety policy.
2. The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF): An Overview
a) The revamped and extended RASFF established by Regulation 178/2002/EC. O. J.  L31/1.
b) Aims and objectives of RASFF.
c) RASFF: Law on the internet.
3. RASFF on the Ground: How Does the System Work?
a) Layers of engagement: The Commission, the UK Food Standards Agency and the Local Authority.
b) A local focus: Local Authorities, RASFF and the internet.