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Talk with the Expert : Dr. Tiziana SORRIENTO from CodaCONS

Interview with the expert: Dr. Tiziana Sorriento representing the CodaCons association
Dr. SORRIENTO, thanks for accepting this  interview. In this course we are learning   about food packaging, migration into food and  drinks, potential concerns for public health,   and how complex this issue is. Does you  agency dedicate time on this? How strongly? We assume that food contact material present in  packaging is safe, but recent tests commissioned   by European consumer organisations have  shown that some very common packaging,   such as paper, pizza boxes for example,  or cups where we drink coffee, can release   substances that may pose a health hazard. In the light of these tests, in July 2019   Codacons started to submit reports to  the Italian Public Prosecutor’s Office   to ascertain health hazards.
Some of these  investigations are in progress and many   manufacturers have chosen to use packaging that do  not contain substances among the suspected ones.  Codacons has also set up an observatory where  citizens can send reports that are evaluated   by technical experts and investigated  by lawyers and researchers.  We also took part in the first Agrifood Conference  organized by the Carabinieri in January 2020,   with a report that highlighted the serious effects  on people’s health due to food contamination. You certainly imagine that some positions  that CODACONS takes in the end may penalizes   the Industry, the Investors, the Commerce  … and leads to job loss or higher costs.   You are clearly on the side of consumers,  I understand, but WHERE IS THE BALANCE ?
Profit and dividends at all costs  is no longer the absolute mantra.  
Multinationals have understood this: protection  of the environment and respect for consumers   first and foremost, and the health of  consumers is at the heart of investment.  Consumers today can guide the  market with their shopping   choices. Think about fur coats for example In the food sector, since 2017 there is   an increase in investment in the control  and monitoring of rodents that can cause   damage to consumer health but also damage to the  product and therefore directly to the company.  The decrease in chemical products and the use  of technologies that pay more attention to the   environment translate into returns to the  industry in terms of tax and company image,   and this certainly supports the demand.
The point is: investments in favor of consumers   mean higher profits for the company in the  long term. In my view, this is the balance How much of your activities is driven  by Public Opinion ? And in turn,   how much of Public Opinion is driven by  aneddoct, fakes, rumors … So in the end,   how do you balance public opinion and the need  to collect with scientific fact, NOT FAKES. ?   Absolutely, NOT FAKES.
CODACONS  always checks the information and   avails itself of the collaboration of a  group of experts, including scientists,   who guide the association’s initiatives on issues  of particular public interest at a given time,   on health policy, such as for vaccines, for  example, or on electromagnetic pollution.   Or on the current issue of G5 technology. It is important to inform citizens, not misinform   them, but certainly the PUBLIC OPINION guides  the activity of the association because what is a   source of concern or discussion among the majority  of citizens is certainly of interest to Codacons,   as a subject of study and further investigation,  as well as an objective of initiatives.
What is your perceived impact of the activity of   your agency on Public Opinion, on  the Legislators, on Food Safety ? Good Question, thanks. On Public Opinion Codacons has an important   impact on public opinion, it is the Italian  association that appears most frequently   in the foreign press and is one of the  most representative associations with   territorial headquarters throughout the country. On the Legislators Consumer associations also play an  important role at a legislative level,   there are working groups of experts at the CNCU  that develop proposals and highlight distortions   in matters of competence, collective  interests such as health protection,   commercial transparency, justice. On food-related issues,   there are current legislative proposals  dealing with food fraud and ………..
On Food Safety for the consumer Food safety issues are still very much linked to  additives, accidental contamination and hygiene   in food preparation. Consumer associations are  less involved in the Food Contact Materials,   which are in the hands of chemists,  laboratories and technicians.  It is more a question of communicating  to citizens the rules to be followed   in order to avoid health risks. For example, how to store and consume food   correctly, or how to read food labels well. There are two principles that have  
been affirmed in Europe: 1) prevention; for example,   if a product is contaminated the  company must withdraw the entire batch  2) traceability and the importance of  the label. Following a 2002 regulation,   consumers should be able to recapitulate  the stages of preparation of a foodstuff. Often we have the impression that some Consumer’s  Associations are a bit anti-system and represent   citizens that are angry about everything and  don’t propose reasonable changes or solutions.   Do you also have this impression? ..How can  we make advancements in this situation ? Well, there are associations in Italy  that have passed rigorous administrative   checks in terms of action objectives,  current initiatives and activities.
They   have obtained national recognition  and are registered in the National   Register of Users’ Consumers at the  Ministry of Economic Development.  Every two years they must demonstrate  that the objectives indicated by the   organization in its statute have been  effectively pursued during that time.   These recognised bodies are entrusted to represent  the collective interests of consumers at national   level. It is with them that negotiation tables are  opened with the companies that are responsible for   the protection of citizens’ rights and health. Now, this is a serious way of working for a   general interest. Citizens must be  represented by recognised protection   bodies because they can promote their  ideas and search for reasonable solutions.
Finally, is there a message you  want to leave to our students ?
Health and Environment need to be  protected, and this is becoming urgent.   This is possible only if we work as  SYSTEM, all the stakeholders together”

In this great interview you will have the chance to listen to the expert opinion of a person representing an important consumers’ association: Dr. Tiziana Sorriento from CodaCons. In her talk Dr. Sorriento will bring to your attention the point of view of consumers, their actions towards safer packaging and food, their interactions with legislators, with control agencies and with the industry. Don’t miss this interesting step.

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Consumer and Environmental Safety: Food Packaging and Kitchenware

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