International experts discuss scientific evaluation of risks linked to imports

The Spanish Food Safety Agency (AESAN) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) organised a scientific workshop on 10 February to share best practices currently in place in various areas of the world for the assessment of risks related to the import of foods, animals and plants. Experts presented scientific methods applied in this field and discussed how best to support risk management decisions regarding possible food safety, animal health and plant health concerns related to those imports.

The workshop in Seville was attended by more than 100 European and international experts working in the areas of plant health, animal health and food safety, as well as specialists in various aspects pertinent to import risk assessment. With increasing global trade, the way import risks are assessed needs to be regularly reviewed.

Participants at the Seville workshop stressed the importance of relying on harmonised data and methods for import risk assessment, and called for international dialogue in this area. The possibility of strengthening the network between EFSA, Member States and third countries in order to facilitate access to international data was also raised during the workshop. Participants looked at the scientific and technical aspects related to import risk assessment (e.g. databases and software applications to predict the possible establishment of diseases related to imports), with a particular focus on new developments in analytical and modelling approaches.

The main points discussed in the workshop were also shared with members of EFSA’s Advisory Forum, who met in Seville on 11 and 12 February for their 35th meeting.

This workshop follows an event EFSA jointly organised with the French Food Safety Agency (Afssa) in October 2008, where experts from all over the world discussed ways for harmonising and improving the way import risks are assessed.

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