The purpose of the study was to present the first stage of work being undertaken to develop and evaluate a maturity framework designed to assess and benchmark the effectiveness, ability to achieve continuous improvement, and optimise processes and functioning of food safety regulatory and enforcement agencies across the world.
To achieve this aim, a comparison of global food safety regulations (desk review), and Delphi-interviews with stakeholders of food safety regulatory and enforcement agencies from Australia, Canada, Ireland, and USA were carried out. There were 4 members in the panel – each member had a minimum of twenty years of experience in the food regulatory world. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic-related lockdown, the panel was interviewed individually using MS Teams. 2 rounds of interviews were carried out. At the end of the first round, data was analysed using inductive, textual data analysis. A report was presented to each panel member, following which, a second round if individual interviews were carried out. This enabled us (the research team) to overcome the limitations posed by global lockdowns and social distancing measures, while carrying out a robust iterative process. Through inductive, textual data analysis, three dimensions and thirteen sub-dimensions were identified that covered cultural and systems elements influencing the quality and impact of food safety regulations across the world as well as the gaps identified by the stakeholders.
The conclusions of the study were that whilst there was broad support by food safety regulators for developing a benchmarking and evaluation framework for food safety regulatory and enforcement agencies, there were also some outstanding challenges such as defining globally applicable measures, buy-in from specialised agencies and senior management to adopt a maturity framework to change the culture within regulatory agencies, and the role played by governments in influencing the efficiency and functioning of regulatory systems.
The paper is Open-Access and resides here.
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