Risk assessment of biological hazards for consumer protection
Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: Scientific achievements, challenges and perspectives of the European Food Safety Authority: Taking stock of the 10 years activities and looking ahead
EFSA´s scientific Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ Panel) provides independent scientific advice on biological hazards in relation to food safety and food-borne diseases. This covers food-borne zoonoses, food microbiology, food hygiene, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (BSE/TSEs) and associated waste management issues. Most of the activities of the BIOHAZ Panel focus on human health and the whole food chain and on science-based interventions to lower the risk to consumers. In the future, food-borne disease burden estimations are foreseen to become increasingly relevant. The risk assessments done by the BIOHAZ Panel are in line with the EU (European Union) strategy of one health, include a farm to fork approach and in many cases have a high multidisciplinary component. Whenever possible, the Panel applies this risk assessment framework developed by Codex Alimentarius as a basis for their work on food safety. The outcomes of some of the activities during the last three to four years are presented. From these examples of recent BIOHAZ opinions it can be seen that the work covers different approaches, ranging from quantitative risk assessments over structured qualitative risk assessment/risk ranking to opinions with short deadlines summarising existence knowledge from scientific literature. The approach taken depends on both the terms of reference (ToR) as received from the EC (European Commission), the available data and resources, and last but not least the time frame for the work following the risk managers’ needs.