Food Safety in Japan: Issues and Challenges
In 2003, Food Safety Basic Act was established and Japan has introduced the risk analysis approach to food safety administration. As a result, risk assessment was separated from risk management and Food Safety Commission, (FSC), was newly established within the Cabinet Of f ice, as a risk assessment organization in the area of food safety. FSC is composed of the Commission, Planning Committee, Scientific Panels, and the Secretariat. The Commission comprises of seven commissioners and it has Planning Committee and Scientific Panels as its subordinate structure. The secretariat supports the activities of FSC by providing operational services to the commissioners and the Committee / Panel members. FSC’s primary task is to assess a risk to human health posed by a hazard contained in food, such as microorganisms and chemicals, based on scientific evidences. Its assessment is mainly conducted in response to requests from risk managers, but some of them are conducted as “self-tasking” assessment on its own initiative. Since the establishment, it has completed more than 2,200 risk assessments and published the results as the reports. FSC takes part in food safety risk communication. FSC is particularly in charge of communicating its risk assessment results to the public and disseminating information on food safety, including basic scientific knowledge, and is committed to fulfilling its role in risk communication through various activities. In addition, implementing research and survey program to collect necessary evidences for risk assessment, making recommendations to relevant ministries based upon assessment results as necessary, and responding to foodborne emergencies in coordination with risk managers are also FSC’s responsibilities. FSC recognizes the following three subjects as its future tasks: Planning and development of new risk assessment methodologies; challenging new assessment topics such as food allergy; and implementing more strategic risk communication.