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A tale of two crises: the Belgian and Irish dioxin contamination incidents

Donal K. Casey (School of Law, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
James S. Lawless (School of Law, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)
Patrick G. Wall (School of Public Health and Population Sciences, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 28 September 2010

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a focused overview of two dioxin incidents, with particular emphasis on regulatory successes and failures and their respective causes. The paper seeks to adopt a comparative approach to the case studies, with considerable use made of primary sources such as parliamentary debate, government reports and EC legislation.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a review of the strengths and weaknesses in the management of the Belgian and Irish dioxin contanimation incidents.

Findings

It is concluded that open, transparent and decisive risk management, based on robust risk assessment, is paramount in ensuring confidence in both the food supply chain and, in the feed and food safety regulatory process. It is also concluded that the 2008 Irish dioxin incident tested the reforms prompted by previous food scares.

Practical implications

It is important that the lessons from these two incidents are learnt if they are not to be repeated in other jurisdictions.

Originality/value

This is the first academic study of the 2008 Irish dioxin incident, one of the most significant recent food scares in the European Communities. The incident emphasises the vital role of open, transparent and decisive decision making in managing risk. In addition, through a comparative analysis of the Belgian and Irish incidents, the utility of the reforms prompted by previous food scares is demonstrated. In particular, the study highlights the important role played by the European Food Safety Authority in one of its first major tests as a risk assessor and risk communicator.

Keywords

Citation

Casey, D.K., Lawless, J.S. and Wall, P.G. (2010), "A tale of two crises: the Belgian and Irish dioxin contamination incidents", British Food Journal, Vol. 112 No. 10, pp. 1077-1091. https://doi.org/10.1108/00070701011080212

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited