Revisiting EFSA@EXPO: How do we train the food safety experts of the future?

What is the future of education in food safety assessment? What are the current developments in training? Scientists from universities, research centres and education bodies shared their ideas on how to handle challenges in food safety risk assessment in an ever-changing and increasingly complex environment. 

Harnessing the power of digital technologies

E-learning helps to develop digital literacy skills, promotes different pedagogical approaches, and improves students’ employability, argued Gráinne Conole, a leading expert in information and communication technologies from the University of Leicester. In her presentation, Professor Conole explored the notions of openness, mobile learning, social media, digital identity and distributed cognition. She identified benefits and drawbacks of new technologies and tackled challenging issues such as accreditation of non-formal training and Massive Open Online Courses.

Chemical risk assessment training

Scientific consultant Paul Brent presented an e-learning module on food chemical risk assessment training thought for regulators in developing countries. He explored challenges for this kind of training: an ageing population, growing numbers of people to feed on the planet, the changing structure of the food industry, the increasing volume and type of food being traded, and changing eating patterns.

Educational cooperation programmes in Europe

What competencies do experts in food safety need? What programmes exist in the EU? What kind of training is useful? How can we shape the future of training programmes? These are some of the questions that were addressed by Wolfgang Kneifel of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna. Key ingredients of training programmes include inter-university comparability, cooperation between academic institutions, and provision of modular training.

Training the next generation of public health specialists

Arnold Bosman, a public health specialist, presented two post-graduate training programmes held at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The programmes are for professionals who want to focus on applying epidemiology or public health microbiology to the control of infectious diseases.

Short courses at BfR  

Andreas Hensel, of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, gave an overview on the institute’s training initiatives. Among these are the Summer Academy on Risk Assessment and Communication, the Academy Training School on Nanotechnologies for Risk Assessors and “FoodChain-Lab” training (open-source software on traceability analysis for outbreak investigations). 

Environmental risk assessment: beyond traditional methods

When designing training programmes, it is crucial to involve society, universities, NGOs, and private companies. This helps universities to attract scientists, said Amadeu Soares of the University of Aveiro in Portugal, who showed a number of examples of different training methods.

How to organise and harmonise risk assessment training

To turn a student into a professional risk assessor, there is a need for basic scientific education (such as master and PhD programmes) to be complemented by specific training, said Johanna Zilliacus, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. She presented examples of training programmes and projects across the EU, such as guidelines and standards, which help to harmonise risk assessment trainings.

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