The food safety barometer has been introduced for the first time at the occasion of an international symposium "Measuring Food Safety and comparing self checking systems"organized by the Belgian Food Safety Agency in Brussels on November 17th, 2010.
The barometers of animal health and plant health (phytosanitary situation) have been published in the Activity Report 2011 (FR) of the FASFC and they are based respectively on advices 09-2011 and 10-2011 of the Scientific Committee.
What is the plant health (phytosanitary situation) barometer ?
The plant health (phytosanitary situation) barometer is an instrument, developed by Scientific Committee, of the Belgian Food Safety Agency of the FASFC, allowing to provide on a yearly basis a general image of the state of the phytosanitary situation of plants and plant products in Belgium and this compared to the situation of a previous year. It is a unique measuring instrument to determine and to monitor the global plant health in Belgium and it is a scoop for Europe.
What does the plant health (phytosanitary situation) barometer ?
The plant health (phytosanitary situation) barometer measures the evolution of the yearly global state of the phytosanitary situation of plants and plant products in Belgium and this mainly based on the results of the control activities of the Agency.
What are the components of the plant health (phytosanitary situation) ?
The plant health (phytosanitary situation) barometer consists of a set of 13 plant health indicators comprehending the entire plant production chain: from suppliers to the distribution of plants and plant products. The control of plants and plant products (on the presence of quarantine phytopathogen agents) as well as the control of processes (inspections and audits) are both included in the basket. The preventive approach (self-checking, mandatory notification, traceability) is also taken into account in the barometer.
Does each plant health (phytosanitary situation) indicator have an equal impact on the global value of the barometer ?
The indicators have being weighed by different stakeholders and experts in the food chain. They evaluated the relative importance of individual plant health indicators in the barometer. The 6 ‘generic’ indicators, related notably to inspections and controls, were given more importance than the 7 ‘specific’ indicators.
Can the barometer give an indication about the level of plant health in Belgium ?
From the visual representation of the barometer it cannot immediately be read at what level the state of plant health is in Belgium. However, the underlying results give an indication that a significant number of indicators reach very high levels of conformity (> 95% conformity). This signifies that plant health in Belgium is at a high level.
Why does the barometer only show results from 2007 ?
It appeared to be very difficult to retrieve reliable historical data for all plant health indicators. The planned and risk-based control of the food chain and the systematic data collection and reporting is an activity which has only been introduced by the Agency during the last years. Going further back in time gives only data on a too small number of indicators.
Why is the result of the barometer expressed as a comparison of the state of a previous year ?
The plant health (phytosanitary situation) means the absence of quarantine phytopathogen agents on plants and plant products. During the distribution/trade, these plants and plant products are thus safe from a phytosanitary point of view. It is difficult to express the height of this safety level in absolute terms. This depends upon the standards or action limits used by the policy managers. These standards may evolve with time. Hence, a comparison with a previous year was chosen for the presentation of the barometer.
Where can more information on the development of the barometer be found ?
Advice 28-2010 of the Scientific Committee on 10th September 2010. Development of a barometer of the safety of the food chain: methodology and case study: 'food safety barometer' (dossier Sci Com 2009/09).
Advice 09-2011 of the Scientific Committee on 26th September 2011. The development of an animal health barometer (dossier Sci Com 2009/09bis).
Advice 10-2011 of the Scientific Committee on 26th September 2011. The development of a plant health (phytosanitary situation) barometer (dossier Sci Com 2009/09ter).
Advice 11-2012 of the Scientific Committee on 4th May 2012. The weight factors of the indicators used in the food safety, animal health and plant health (phytosanitary situation) barometers (dossier Sci Com 2012/03).
Measuring Food Safety - Development of a tool for a general measure for food safety (PDF) : presentation given at the occasion of the International symposium ‘Measuring Food Safety and comparing self-checking systems’ (17/11/2010).
Measuring the safety of the food chain in Belgium: development of a barometer : publication of Baert K., Van Huffel X., Wilmart O., Jacxsens L., Berkvens D., Diricks H., Huyghebaert A., Uyttendaele M., Food Research International, May 2011, 44:4, 940-950.
Is there a relationship between the Belgian food safety barometer and the Eurobarometer for food-related risks ?
Next to the plant health (phytosanitary situation) barometer, an animal health barometer and a food safety barometer have been developed.