Application of systematic review methodology to food and feed safety assessments to support decision making

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Article
European Food Safety Authority
EFSA Journal
EFSA Journal 2010; 8(6):1637
doi
10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1637
Acknowledgements

EFSA wishes to thank the members of the Working Group on the Application of systematic review methodology to food and feed safety assessments to support decision making for the preparation of this EFSA scientific output: Jon Deeks, Geoff Frampton (Rapporteur), Julie Glanville, Matthias Greiner, Julian Higgins, Gabor Lövei, Annette M O'Connor, Andrew Pullin, Andrijana Rajić; and EFSA’s staff members Elisa Aiassa, Billy Amzal, Didier Verloo, Ana Afonso, Jean-Lou Dorne, and Karin M. Nienstedt. This Guidance document was peer reviewed by Marcus G. Doherr and Sirpa Kärenlampi.

Contact
Type
Guidance of EFSA
On request from
EFSA
Question Number
EFSA-Q-2008-717
Approved
26 May 2010
Published in the EFSA Journal
1 June 2010
Affiliation
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
Note
Abstract

Systematic reviews are commonly used in human health research to provide overviews of existing evidence pertinent to clearly formulated specific questions, using pre-specified and standardised methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report and analyse data from the studies that are included in the reviews. Formal systematic reviews have rarely been used in food and feed safety risk assessments and the existing systematic review methods in other disciplines may not be directly applicable in this field. This Guidance aims to assist the application of systematic reviews to food and feed safety risk assessments in support of decision making, by describing a framework for identifying the different types of question suitable for systematic review generated by the risk assessment process and for determining the need for systematic reviews when dealing with broad food and feed safety policy problems. The Guidance provides suggestions and examples for the conduct of eight key steps in the systematic review process (preparing a review, searching for studies, selecting studies for inclusion, collecting data from included studies, assessing the methodological quality of included studies, synthesising data from the studies, presenting data and results, and interpreting the results and drawing conclusions) for questions suitable for systematic reviews, taking into account issues that may be unique to food and feed safety. Due to its methodological rigor and its objective and transparent nature, systematic review methodology and its principles could provide additional value for answering well-formulated specific questions generated by the risk assessment process or other analytical frameworks in food and feed safety. Regular updates of this Guidance are foreseen in light of experience and new evidence both in food and feed safety and systematic review methodology.

Keywords
systematic review, food safety, feed safety, literature search, risk assessment