The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is rolling out a series of initiatives to strengthen the support it provides to applicants and other stakeholders. This programme builds on previous activities by EFSA to enhance its customer service approach. It is part of the Authority’s ongoing commitment to inform and engage with all those interested in its work.
Karine Lheureux, head of EFSA’s Applications Helpdesk, said: “Following a survey on stakeholder needs in 2013, EFSA is now implementing a multi-annual project to develop a customer-oriented approach for regulated products. This aims to develop an evaluation process that is more interactive and responsive – with timelines to completion that are easier to forecast. Some initiatives have already been implemented, some are being introduced today, while others are currently under consideration.”
The initiatives presented today mean:
- Whenever EFSA asks for information about a regulated product application during the completeness check and risk assessment process, applicants can request a teleconference with EFSA staff to clarify the issues raised by the Authority. It is important to note that clarification teleconferences are only available following a request for information from EFSA. For pesticide applications, EFSA or Member State bodies can request more information. In such cases, applicants can request a teleconference with EFSA only when the query is made by the Authority.
- EFSA will increase the use of technical hearings to give applicants greater opportunity to discuss outstanding questions about their applications during the risk assessment process. Upon request from EFSA, applicants will be invited to meetings of the Authority’s working groups - either in person or via teleconference - to answer questions and to clarify outstanding issues about their submitted data. EFSA will decide if this is necessary after examining the written response from the applicant to the Authority’s initial request for information.
- EFSA will inform applicants by email and update the Register of Questions shortly after a relevant scientific opinion has been adopted by one of its scientific panels.
- EFSA will develop a dedicated webpage with an overview of all the dates of the plenary meetings of its scientific panels for regulated products.
- By the end of 2014, EFSA will launch a regular online newsletter outlining key developments in its work on regulated products.
- EFSA will carry out regular satisfaction surveys to give stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback on services and suggest future areas for development. Participate in this year’s survey by clicking on the link below.
Per Bergman, who leads EFSA’s work on regulated products, said “Enhancing two-way communication with applicants during the evaluation process will allow us to better explain the information we need to review applications and will make it possible for working groups to seek clarifications regarding information once submitted to us. This will help to improve the service we provide and streamline the risk assessment process.”
Regulated products require scientific risk assessment by EFSA before they can be authorised for use on the EU market. These include substances used in feed and food (such as additives, enzymes, flavourings, nutrient sources), food contact materials and pesticides as well as GMOs, food manufacturing processes and processing aids. EFSA's regulated products mandate also includes the scientific substantiation of nutrition and health claims.