Revisiting EFSA@EXPO: Advancing scientific risk assessment in the area of food safety – what needs to be done?

What are the main ideas that emerged at EFSA’s scientific conference in October 2015 and can advance EFSA’s work in the field of food safety? A panel comprising representatives of international organisations, NGOs, industry, the European Commission and EFSA revisited some of the main discussions and summed up the key conclusions to take away from the conference. Here are some of the issues the panellists raised during the final plenary.

New technologies and methodologies

The emergence of new kinds of scientific information created by new technologies and new methodologies, as well as information provided by the public, creates a new and highly dynamic environment for risk assessment. How can this treasure trove of information be used in the regulatory context? Global harmonisation of scientific approaches and collaboration between international players appear to be part of the answer.

Clear problem formulation

Discussing the interplay between risk assessment and risk management, panellists agreed that this relationship should be a reiterative process. They stressed the need for a good problem formulation at the outset of scientific risk assessment. A clear identification of needs leads to risk assessment that is fit-for-purpose.

Open and transparent risk communication

The panellists also discussed risk communications and called for increased efforts to communicate openly, clearly and to put risk in perspective. Transparency was a hotly debated issue, with everyone agreeing it is a fundamental element in regulatory risk assessment.

The panellists for the final session were: Elke Anklam (European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre), Panagiotis Daskaleros (European Commission, DG Health and Food Safety), Hubert Deluyker (EFSA), Martin Dermine (Pesticide Action Network), Samuel Godefroy (University Laval), Tony Hardy (EFSA), Patrick Hau (Ministry of Health, Luxembourg), Euros Jones (European Crop Protection Association), Derek Knight (European Chemicals Agency), and Angelika Tritscher (WHO). The session was facilitated by Barbara Serra, a journalist for Al-Jazeera. 

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