EFSA Scientific Colloquia aim to achieve a better understanding of the fundamental scientific issues in all areas of EFSA’s mission and are organised in a way to provide opportunity for an interactive exchange of expert views. To that end the Scientific Colloquia are sufficiently informal to allow for substantial debates if needed. However, at the same time, they are adequately structured and managed to enable participants to reach conclusions and make recommendations as appropriate. The meeting on micro-organisms in food and feed qualified presumption of safety (QPS) was the second in the series of Scientific Colloquia.
The QPS approach is a system similar in concept and purpose to the GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) definition used in the USA, but modified to take account of the different regulatory practices in Europe. It represents a possible route to harmonisation of approaches for the safety assessment of micro-organisms used in feed/food production across the EFSA Panels and would ensure a better use of assessment resources by focussing on those organisms which represent the greatest risks or uncertainties. If introduced into Europe, QPS will permit the identification of what is required to make an adequate safety assessment. QPS is suggested as an operating tool within EFSA for safety assessment and priority setting. The objective of this Colloquium was to have an open scientific debate on the scientific principles behind the QPS approach as formulated in a working paper of a joint working group of 3 former DG SANCO (Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection, European Commission) Scientific Committees including comments received on this working document during a public consultation period in 2003. In addition, the participants were asked to explore options on how the QPS concept may be further developed for possible implementation by EFSA in safety assessments within the framework of current and proposed legislation.
This present Summary Report is capturing the main discussion points raised by the participants of the Colloquium and does not necessarily express the view of EFSA or its Scientific Committee or Panels.
In the meantime, a working group of the EFSA Scientific Committee prepared an opinion on a generic approach to the safety assessment by EFSA of microorganisms used in food/feed and the production of food/feed additives taking into account the suggestions made by the participants of the Colloquium and the former comments received during the consultation period of the QPS working paper in 2003. The opinion including a proposal on how the QPS approach may be implemented by EFSA has been adopted by the Scientific Committee in April 2005.
We are very pleased with the lively discussions and very constructive contributions by all participants of the meeting. Special appreciation is expressed to the overall chairs and rapporteurs of the Colloquium, the chairs and rapporteurs of the four Discussion Groups and in particular to Tine Rask Licht and John Heritage for drafting this Summary Report.