Designing Law for Nutrition-Related Health – a workshop

Start Date: 06/08/2015
End Date: 06/09/2015
Place: University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, UK
Organization: University of Surrey

Designing Law for Nutrition-Related Health 


This multi-disciplinary workshop seeks to initiate the development of a 

model which can improve regulatory design for nutrition and health needs in 
food law. It will bring together academics, practitioners and policy-makers 
from a range of disciplines and locations to explore whether and how public 
health nutrition research can inform better the design and implementation 
of European Union (EU) food law. Contributing disciplines will be social 
sciences, public health nutrition, business studies and law. Much has been 
written on different styles of regulation but there is very little work 
which seeks to develop a theoretical approach to integrating scientific 
research into the design and implementation of regulation in the context of 
nutrition and health. 
The operation of much regulatory law is frequently described as a barrier 
to innovation and development. This is arguably because it often fails to 
incorporate domain specific knowledge, e.g. in the area of food and health, 
into the design stage of regulation. This workshop will seek to initiate 
the development of a regulatory design model in respect of food law so as 
to promote public health, taking account of the interdisciplinary approach 
necessary to design good regulation. 
*Dates:* 8-9 June 2015 
*Location:* University of Surrey, Guildford, UK 
*Details:* Designing Law for Nutrition-Related Health 
*Deadline for submitting abstracts: *11 May 2015 
*Fee:* £80 (£30 for PhD students). The registration fee includes workshop 
materials and refreshments and lunch on both days. 
Three themed sessions each with a keynote speaker and 2-3 shorter related 
presentations (sourced from contributors responding to an open call) 
followed by chaired round table discussions focussing on key workshop 
themes, including a final session which will integrate the theme 
*Styles of regulation for nutrition and health* 
Designing effective regulation is of primary concern in achieving the 
public health objective. Whether the law is risk-based, prohibitory, 
procedural or reflexive are all questions which need to be considered in 
relation to the particular form of law which is adopted and its ability to 
achieve the public health objective which is its purpose. Much legislation 
in the food arena is reactive and, in relation to the EU, is increasingly 
emerging in the form of Regulations which are directly applicable and leave 
no discretion to Member States. Concern to ensure harmonisation at the 
highest level in the face of increasing threats relating to the safety of 
food is leading to this result. But is that reactive approach the most 
effective way to design legislation which is aimed at promoting public 
health? This session will reflect on whether the current legislation 
adequately supports public health nutrition. Round table discussions will 
focus on the following questions: 
• Does food law support the drive for public health? 
• What models of enforcement are appropriate in the food supply 
chain to drive nutrition and health? 
• How much flexibility is generally desirable in the framework 
*Domain-specific science underpinning nutrition-related legislation* 
Within the fields of food and nutrition, research abounds across 
scientific, technical and behavioural areas but this leaves the question as 
to how effectively such research is being incorporated into legislation in 
terms of its design and style. Further, lack of scientific consensus is not 
operating as a barrier to legislation and the precautionary principle is 
frequently invoked as a legitimate and ethical basis for new EU Regulations. 
This session will reflect on the link between public health nutrition 
research and the associated legislation. Round table discussions will focus 
on questions such as: 
• To what extent is public health nutrition research being taken 
into account in the drafting of law? 
• Where scientific knowledge is developing how can food and health 
legislation keep up with such change so as to drive the latest learning on 
nutritional and health needs? 
• How much flexibility should be left to decision-makers at 
national, regional or local level, e.g. due to different cultures, 
populations, needs, levels of protection etc.? 
• Which risk assessors play/should play the key role, e.g. 
industry’s scientists, national competent authorities or EFSA? 
• How should the precautionary principle be incorporated and 
*Behavioural aspects for nutrition and health* 
The process whereby people make decisions about their choices of food 
represents a complex decision-making process and behavioural sciences are 
increasingly important in determining the framework for this cognitive 
process. Examples of the abundance of scientific research include, for 
example, the impact of behavioural patterns around nutrition on health, 
quality of life and longevity. Behavioural research is extensive and shows 
that individuals may not function in predictable and rational ways. With 
legislation increasingly used as the main driver for influencing human 
behaviour in respect of the food choices they make it becomes imperative to 
examine the efficacy of different approaches to regulation to achieve good 
public health outcomes. This session will reflect on what the behavioural 
sciences offer legislators developing food law that promotes nutrition and 
health. Round table discussions will focus on: 
• What role should self-regulation, voluntary codes and other 
alternatives to ‘command control’ approaches play? 
• How can the law give flesh to this developing work on behaviour 
• How can the law promote behavioural choices for health without 
becoming the nanny state and limiting individual freedoms? 
Contributions are welcomed from a wide range of disciplines, and from both 
academics and practitioners. Individual contributions will be around 10 – 
15 minutes, and potential contributors should send a 250 word abstract by 
using the submission form below by 11 May 2015. Attendance will be 
confirmed by 18 May 2015. 
The number of participants in the workshop will be strictly limited to 
facilitate creative discussion, and there is an attendance fee payable by 
speakers and attendees of £80 (£30 for PhD students). The registration fee 
includes workshop materials and refreshments and lunch on both days. 
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