The Danish system for food safety and nutrition

Following a series of changes up through the 90s and 00s, the national Danish system for food safety and nutrition has now been organised with a clear separation between risk assessment and risk management – something which has been recommended internationally for quite some time (by WHO and FAO, among others).

Under the new organisation, the administrative responsibilities (rules, control etc.) lie with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration while the National Food Institute, Technical university of Denmark, is now responsible for the scientific assessment of risks and the research-based assessment of monitoring data.

This separation helps ensure an independent scientific description of problems and possible solutions as well as efficiency and research basis in the public sector consultancy, offering a transparent and efficient system.

To be able to offer such research-based consultancy, the National Food Institute needs to conduct research. The new organisation in one of the new major Danish universities, Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has further strengthened the research capacity of the National Food Institute.

The National Food Institute conducts research in microbiological and chemical risk assessment, but also in food production and nutrition. The Institute thus adopts a holistic approach to food, including knowledge about production forms as well as the positive and negative aspects of our food.

The National Food Institute’s knowledge about the negative aspects of substances in our food (toxicology) means that the Institute is also able to provide consulting services to other bodies with focus on the chemical area. This applies in particular to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency which receives research-based consulting on environmentally harmful substances, enabling the Institute to contribute widely to holistic assessments of the health impact of chemical substances based all relevant sources, foods and the environment.

The basic research conducted by the National Food Institute is recognised in Denmark and internationally, and the Institute operates a number of EU reference laboratories. The Institute staff also serve in several EU (EFSA) bodies on WHO/FAO expert committees.