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TBGI Working Paper 32

Transnational Business Governance Interactions in Food Safety Regulation: Exploring the Promises and Risks of Enrolment

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Paul Verbruggen and Tetty Havinga

June 2018

Abstract

Private actors have assumed an invaluable role in today’s global governance of food safety. One of the most prominent private actors in this domain is the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a non-profit industry-led organization that benchmarks private food safety standards with a view to coordinate, converge and ratchet up existing standards and enhance compliance with public food safety laws. In this chapter we discuss the unfolding interaction between GFSI and domestic state actors in the regulation of food safety. We offer an empirical account of how and to what extent national food safety agencies in Canada, China and the Netherlands have engaged with GFSI and its benchmarked schemes. We analyse these transnational business governance interactions (TBGIs) using the framework proposed by Eberlein et all (2014) and Wood et al (2015). We show that the interaction between GFSI and public agencies has developed for different reasons and in different ways, with different results. To critically discuss these findings, and to deepen the TGBI analytical framework, we draw on the concept of enrolment as developed by Black (2003). We argue that this concept adds to the TGBI framework a critical perspective on why and how certain actors link with each other, and with what results.

Keywords

Food safety, private standards, certification, Global Food Safety Initiative, enrolment