Introduction The aim of socio-economic research in the MoniQA Network of Excellence is to develop a toolbox to support impact assessment of proposed food safety regulatory changes. Objectives The scope of this contribution is to present an initial version of such a toolbox with its application to a case study, which concerns a proposal on setting maximum levels of T-2 and HT-2 toxins in cereals and cereal products. A regulatory proposal of ‘strict’ maximum limits is compared with two alternative options: the ‘do nothing’ option and the ‘soft’ regulatory option. Methods The proposed toolbox involves a preliminary qualitative assessment of the likely impacts of each of the policy options considered, with a coding/scoring procedure, in order to identify the greatest impacts. A feasibility filter subsequently considers the availability of data necessary for impact quantification. The subsequent quantitative assessment is performed with different methodologies for the most important impacts. Finally, a multi-criteria analysis approach – which allows for a combination of qualitative and quantitative measurements – is used to arrive at a ranking of policy options. Results The outcome of this assessment exercise is that the ‘do nothing’ option is clearly the most preferable option, and, between the two regulatory options (options 2 and 3), the setting out of ‘strict’ maximum limits is preferable to ‘soft’ maximum limits. Conclusion This case study shows the potentialities of the toolbox as support to policy makers, which will be improved and tested with additional case studies in the remaining years of the MoniQA Network of Excellence.
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