Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

The competence of the invoved subjects

The competence of the invoved subjects - stakeholders - in the packaging business
Hi, and welcome to the Avatar Show on our jobs activities and interests. We introduced ourselves to you in the beginning of this course. Remember ? Let us go through quickly. I’m Chemi-Joe and I work in an analytical chemistry laboratory I’m Research-Ann and I have a team that works in a biology laboratory I’m Industry-Alex and I am chief executive in a medium-size food industry and I’m Opinio-Neil, I am invited to TV and round-tables to discuss opinions. I’m Shopper-Vicky, a consumer that pays attention to food facts …and I’m Regula-Mary and I hold a position at the EU commission for health We would like to show you our jobs, activities and interests. We scientists carry out basic and applied research, tests and analyses.
We provide raw data and key information. Without clear and independent research no knowledge and no advancement is possible. We need facts and data to know what we are talking about. We would like to be consulted by Opinio-Neil, Industry-Alex and Regula-Mary, but does this happen ? …Mmh I guess not, …most of the times our work ends up in conferences and pubblications, and then ? FINISHED. We epidemiologist are good in data collection and statistics. We search for correlations between trends in global health and food, diet, contaminants, use of materials, medicines, air pollution, smoking, and so on… Our results are important, they tell us there is something we need to worry about. Not panic, but worry.
ALONE we are not able to define the causes of a global event, but we come up with suspects and good hypothesis. To get a real proof we need experimental biologists, biochemists, geneticists and doctors.
Together we run multidisciplinary projects: epidemiologist collaborate with Chemi-Joe and Research-Ann to find cause-effect relationships between a certain chemical and biomedical parameters However, we also have ambitions, careers, sponsors, conflicts of interest… we are not angels… Our results are NOT very attractive for Industry-Alex, instead are VERY INTERESTING for Opinio-Neil and Shopper-Vicky. And should be interesting for Regula-Mary. Are they ? Monitoring Agencies like EFSA, stimulated by the results from chemical tests and research, have the hard job to …. translate this into monitoring programs.
In regular times, as well as following a crisis, they collect samples and have them tested for the presence of migrating chemicals, medicinal drugs, pesticides, antibiotics … The collected information should be made public, for instance in database of EDC like this one that you see. And should be explained in easy terms, for everyone to comprehend. Does this really happen ?
I represent the other side of the coin: food producers and manufacturers, food distributors, investors. This is an important sector with strong economic interests, profits and jobs. I make sure that our food and packaging is safe, and I strictly follow the rules of maximal doses allowed by laws. If not, control agencies and law-enforcement officers will pursue me, public opinion will protest, and I will lose credibility and face serious economic loss. Part of the society attacks me. Well, sometimes with reason – I do run after business and profit, I tend to minimize the safety issue. Some of us are keen in green material, no-plastic and organic food, but I just go by the laws.
Green, organic, no plastic, kilometer zero food ends up costing a bit more than regular food, instead I want prizes to stay low. Does it have to be like that ? I am an average consumer, and I participate in consumers’ associations and interest groups. I am keen on green, organic, no-plastic, no pesticide, kilometer-zero food, and often are on the opposite side of Industry. Our associations keep a close and independent look on the improvements, costs, laws and frauds in the food business, and put pressure onto Control Agencies and Legislators through Media and Journalists. We would like to see investment in research and health, more transparency and traceability, higher safety standards.
We often disagree with Industry-Alex: he underestimates evidence on health threats in favour of profit and tends to respect scientific research only when he has financed the study. Sometimes we are in contrast about choices that we think go against health and environmental protection. But is this confrontation beneficial ? Can there be dialogue ? Consumer associations ! have the mission to promote information and discussion about global health and well being. I represent opinionists, journalists, media agencies and political leaders, and I have the specific role of … … keeping the citizens informed honestly, correctly, timely and comprehensively. Also I should promote awareness and debate on important issues, such as food and health.
I am a mix between journalist, showman and politician, I am bright in talk shows, always have spicy questions and smart answers ready. I can easily raise polemics or blunt them, I’m good at that. However, from time to time, I support Consumer-Vicky or Industry-Alex depending on the audience. And that is not right.
Yes I know: I should inform myself and listen to all the stakeholders, but I have no time for that. I should avoid over-simplifications and stay away from fake news. Instead I run from TV show and round-tables, I raise polemics and quarrels. But this is my life.. No time for serious learning …
I have two main jobs : 1. formalize the tests and parameters needed for the Monitoring Agencies. 2. propose, discuss, and campaign for new laws and regulations in commissions and parliaments. I am aware that I can impose rules ending up limiting free-commerce and maximal profit, but my real intention is to promote safety and public health. I am also aware that if food companies are penalized they will reduce personnel or even leave the country. It is very difficult to come up with a perfect law – one that satisfies the most, penalizes the least, warrants equal rights and opportunity, promotes jobs and economy, respects genders and minorities, avoids social conflict, UUhhff.
Yes I know, I should consult and listen to all the previous stakeholders, evaluate, talk to other experts, discuss with experienced officers and then make a decision.Does it happen like this ?

In this video you will see the jobs and competence of each single subject involved in the complex flow of packaging-chemicals-food-health. We have translated each subject into one representative avatars – described in week 1. Now each avatar will show its main duty and competence. The video refers to the ideal world, when everyone does his/her job properly and responsibly.

This article is from the free online

Consumer and Environmental Safety: Food Packaging and Kitchenware

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now