The principles and methods behind EFSA’s Guidance on Uncertainty Analysis in Scientific Assessment

uncertainty analysis, principles, scientific assessment, guidance
First published in the EFSA Journal
24 January 2018
15 November 2017
Scientific Opinion


To meet the general requirement for transparency in EFSA’s work, all its scientific assessments must consider uncertainty. Assessments must say clearly and unambiguously what sources of uncertainty have been identified and what is their impact on the assessment conclusion. This applies to all EFSA’s areas, all types of scientific assessment and all types of uncertainty affecting assessment. This current Opinion describes the principles and methods supporting a concise Guidance Document on Uncertainty in EFSA’s Scientific Assessment, published separately. These documents do not prescribe specific methods for uncertainty analysis but rather provide a flexible framework within which different methods may be selected, according to the needs of each assessment. Assessors should systematically identify sources of uncertainty, checking each part of their assessment to minimise the risk of overlooking important uncertainties. Uncertainty may be expressed qualitatively or quantitatively. It is neither necessary nor possible to quantify separately every source of uncertainty affecting an assessment. However, assessors should express in quantitative terms the combined effect of as many as possible of identified sources of uncertainty. The guidance describes practical approaches. Uncertainty analysis should be conducted in a flexible, iterative manner, starting at a level appropriate to the assessment and refining the analysis as far as is needed or possible within the time available. The methods and results of the uncertainty analysis should be reported fully and transparently. Every EFSA Panel and Unit applied the draft Guidance to at least one assessment in their work area during a trial period of one year. Experience gained in this period resulted in improved guidance. The Scientific Committee considers that uncertainty analysis will be unconditional for EFSA Panels and staff and must be embedded into scientific assessment in all areas of EFSA’s work.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Anthony Hardy, Diane Benford, Thorhallur Halldorsson, Michael John Jeger, Helle Katrine Knutsen, Simon More, Hanspeter Naegeli, Hubert Noteborn, Colin Ockleford, Antonia Ricci, Guido Rychen, Josef R Schlatter, Vittorio Silano, Roland Solecki, Dominique Turck and Maged Younes.
Scientific Committee
sc.secretrariat [at]
EFSA Journal 2018;16(1):5122
Question Number
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