The Cabinet Office launched a council Tuesday designed to address growing public concerns about food safety, and the agricultural ministry reorganized its structure.
The Cabinet Office’s seven-member Food Safety Council takes full responsibility for evaluating the safety of food products under the basic food safety law enacted in May. The move comes in the wake of the outbreak of mad cow disease in 2001 and other food-related incidents.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi officially named Sadakazu Tanigaki, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, as the minister in charge of the council, which consists of food scientists and experts approved by the Diet.
The new council is authorized to evaluate a wide range of food and food-related materials, including fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, food additives, genetically modified foods and health foods.
It also has the authority to issue advisories to authorities, including the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.
These ministries take charge of carrying out risk-management measures, including fostering industries promoting food safety in addition to oversight and prevention of legal violations.
“We will make utmost efforts to build confidence in the administration of food safety,” Tanigaki said. “It seems to me that work on risk management and evaluation has often been disorganized.
“I feel there is a need to undergo proper training to coordinate work” between the council and the ministries.
In line with the move, the agriculture ministry launched a new bureau dealing with food consumption and safety to take over from the Food Agency, which was abolished after 52 years of existence.
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