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Escaping the Regulatory Net: Why Regulatory Reform Can Fail Consumers

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This paper considers the impact of recent reforms to the UK food safety régime and considers whether the reforms have been able to deliver their promised benefits and if not, why not. Empirically, the paper examines the UK Food Standards Agency's (FSA) reforms to the régime managing food allergen risks, and the extent to which those reforms have reflected the FSA's guiding principle of “putting consumers first”. The paper finds that the operationalization of that guiding principle was mitigated by a number of factors, including: interpretative flexibility in representing consumer interests; the institutional structure and character of the régime; the political and cultural environment in which the régime operated; and normative uncertainties about the allocation of rights and responsibilities in managing risks. The paper concludes that risk regulation reforms are likely to fail in prioritizing consumer interests unless such factors are taken into account.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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