Working Paper on Better Regulatory Enforcement: Emerging Practices in Food Safety


Paul Verbruggen & Tetty Havinga, Better Regulatory Enforcement: Emerging Practices in Food Safety, «I paper dell’Osservatorio», Osservatorio AIR,, September 2016, P1/2016. ISSN 2280-8698


Governments and international organisations grapple with the question of how to improve regulatory outcomes and ensure rule-compliance among regulated firms. In some cases, state actors engage with private, non-state actors to overcome gaps they are forced to leave in an age of austerity, globalisation and ever-complex technological developments. In this paper we analyse how, in the domain of food safety, state actors collaborate with private actors to ensure better compliance with food safety standards.

More specifically, we engage in an empirical study of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), which like other food safety authorities in Europe and elsewhere has recently developed forms of coordination and collaboration with private compliance systems in the monitoring and enforcement of public food safety laws.

The paper examines the safeguards that the public enforcement agency uses while coordinating its own activities with private food safety controls, the advantages and risks involved in this strategy, and the extent to which this policy can be improved. From this we draw lessons for public agencies elsewhere willing to engage with private compliance mechanisms. The study is based on the analysis of policy documents, public and private regulation and open-ended interviews with representatives of the public and private sector in the Netherlands.