Expert Group on a Post-Accident Food Safety Framework (EGFSF)
Image: Nadiia Vynar/Unsplash

Experience from past nuclear accidents, such as the one in Chernobyl or at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), shows that the management of potentially contaminated food after a nuclear emergency is a complex and long-term concern. For example, more than a decade after the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident, food safety management is still strongly related to economic aspects through consumer trust, the issue of loss of image and reputational risk for a region and/or a product. Another issue encountered after the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident was to secure the market for emblematic food products, despite the levels of contamination well below the criteria established by Japanese authorities. A further continuous challenge is the heterogeneity of approaches taken in different countries and regions, for example, import bans on Japanese food.

In 2014, the CRPPH  presented the first argument for the need of a framework for the post-accident management of contaminated food and outlined a path towards an independent scientific review of measures taken in this regard with the publication Framework for the Post-accident Management of Contaminated Food. The aim of this framework was to reinforce public and international confidence in the implementation of food safety decisions. The framework has not been further advanced since 2014 and since then, there have been a number of new or updated international guidelines and recommendations issued by different international bodies, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) or the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, many lessons have been learnt at the national and international levels since 2014.

In this context, the CRPPH decided to revitalise the Post-Nuclear Accident Food Safety Framework project and created the Expert Group on a Post-Accident Food Safety Framework (EGFSF). The overarching objective of the EGFSF is to identify options to develop a neutral, internationally recognised methodology, based on purely scientific assessments and reviewed by a panel of international experts to solve some of the remaining challenges with food safety issues. The work of the EGFSF is threefold:

  1. To analyse what has been done by the CRPPH and evaluate the value of this work and potential ways forward given the international regulatory developments since 2014;
  2. If an added value is identified and on the basis of existing documents, to operationalise the science-based peer-review process to enhance international harmonisation and trust in the field;
  3. To identify implementation options of the overall process through a suitable approach on the policy, political or legal level; to promote consent on the approach taken among NEA member countries and other adhering countries.

An indicative timeline of the work of the EGFSF can be found in the infographic on this page .

To reach its objectives, the EGFSF can draw from the experience of a diverse membership of more than 20 members from 13 NEA member countries. The particularity of the membership of the group is that some countries have decided to nominate both, radiological protection experts and experts from food safety agencies. The EGFSF will further receive input from invited experts from the FAO, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate (OECD-TAD), as well as observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  

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