Global Harmonization Initiative (GHI), Austria
Title: Why harmonize food regulations and what is needed to make it work?
Huub Lelieveld is President of the Global Harmonization Initiative and fellow of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology. He editor or co-editor of numerous books, including “Hygiene in food processing”, the “Handbook of hygiene control in the food industry”, “Food preservation by pulsed electric fields”, “Ensuring Global Food Safety: Exploring Global Harmonization”, “Regulating Safety of Traditional and Ethnic Foods”, “Hygienic design of food factories”, ”Food safety management: a practical guide for the food industry” and “High Pressure Processing of Food – Principles, Technology and Applications”. He wrote chapters for many books and encyclopaedia, hundreds of scientific articles and articles for magazines and presented hundreds of papers, globally. He has been awarded doctor honoris causa at the National University of Food Technologies in Kiev, Ukraine and has got several other awards in Europe and the USA.
Regrettably after decades of negotiations between countries and supranational organizations, there are still too many differences that hamper movement of safe food across borders and hamper innovations and it does not look like the differences will disappear soon. Therefore, where possible, serious scientists should continue to work together to provide scientifically correct evidence that may be used as tools by stakeholders to try influence negotiations and to try convince local authorities that harmonization is in the interest of everybody. To make it work in practice requires that the scientific evidence is understood by those who need to know and that means most people, at all levels. Not only large companies are affected by unjustified differences in regulations, but also small companies and street vendors and ultimately all consumers, who in many countries have a democratic vote and thus are influential. In turn this makes it necessary that the science is translated in a language that the those who need to know understand. The Global Harmonization Initiative therefore not only tries to find consensus on scientific issues, but also seeks means to make the findings understood by everybody, requiring simplification, but without losing the true scientific facts, and translation into local languages. Then having the results published in, scientific journals, popular scientific magazines, newspapers and magazines aimed at the general public. Another crucial aspect is that those who do the negotiations understand what they are talking about, because expressions used in regulations and during negotiations tend to have – often vastly - different meanings in different countries or regions.