About the BIOHAZ Panel and the Biological Hazards and Contaminants Unit

The Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) provides independent scientific advice on biological hazards in relation to food safety and food-borne diseases. This covers:

  • Food-borne zoonoses (animal diseases transmissible to humans)
  • Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (BSE/TSEs)
  • Food microbiology
  • Food hygiene and associated waste management issues

The Panel is one of EFSA’s key drivers on work on BSE and TSE.

It carries out risk assessments in order to produce scientific opinions and advice for risk managers. The Panel’s risk assessment work is based on reviewing scientific information and data in order to evaluate the risks posed by a given issue. This helps to provide a sound foundation for European policies and legislation and supports risk managers in taking effective and timely decisions.

How we work

The Panel works independently, openly and transparently to deliver timely scientific advice of the highest standards to support the policies and decisions of risk managers.

It carries out its work either in response to requests for scientific advice from risk managers or on its own initiative. Most commonly, the European Commission asks EFSA to provide scientific advice on a particular issue. The Panel always undertakes work on the basis of Terms of Reference which guide its approach to each question.

The Panel regularly sets up Working Groups involving external scientists with relevant expertise to focus on specific matters and help produce scientific opinions. The Panel itself meets regularly in plenary sessions to discuss work in progress and to adopt finalised scientific opinions. Each opinion results from a collective decision-making process with every Panel member having an equal say.

Biological Hazards and Contaminants Unit

The Biological Hazards and Contaminants Unit (BIOCONTAM) provides administrative and scientific support to the work of the BIOHAZ Panel. The unit may carry out other projects in EFSA’s remit and may also produce scientific outputs on behalf of EFSA, for instance in response to urgent requests for scientific advice.