Journal article Open Access

Transparency and Openness in Food Safety: insights about new Data Confidentiality rules

Sapienza Salvatore

This short study discusses the potential implications of an ownership-based approach to the debate on data transparency and openness in the context of food safety legislation. Measures enshrined in the draft EU reform of the General Food Law Regulation give more power to the European Food Safety Authority to disclose scientific data submitted by commercial entities when requesting an authorisation to place food products on the EU market. This originates a conflict between the public interest in the disclosure of data for the cross-check of the evidence supporting the safety of foods and the commercial interest of the industry in keeping the data confidential. Possibly due to some divergence in the conceptualisation of the goals of transparency and openness, the rationale underlying the publication remains unclear. Departing from the proposed reform, this study looks at how it determines a shift of the ownership when scientific data is transferred from food business operators to the Authority and then published for transparency and openness reasons. Findings from this paper also suggest that the issues pertaining to data ownership shall be taken into account when legislative initiatives or decisions concerning the disclosure of data take place.

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