Establishment and maintenance of routine analysis of data from the Rapid Alert System on Food and Feed
The Emerging Risks Unit (EMRISK) was requested by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to develop a system for the routine monitoring of data from the Rapid Alert System on Food and Feed (RASFF), with the main objective of detecting potentially relevant patterns of notifications and a timely reporting. The RASFF-Database, maintained by the European Commission (EC), includes detailed information on food safety events notified by the members of the RASFF-network. EMRISK has developed a system that enables the provision of up-to-date statistics (e.g. frequency tables and graphs) from the RASFF-Database. The core system is based on IT applications to produce alerts of new or re-emerging hazards and ad hoc reports. The IT tools developed are used by EMRISK for its monitoring activities and to provide a fast response to specific requests received from EFSA's scientific Units. The evaluation of the RASFF-Database as a potential source of information for the identification of emerging risks indicates that this source of information, largely based on surveillance and inspection programs driven by the existing legislation, can be useful mainly for the identification of re-emerging hazards. Some of the tools developed by EMRISK in this system (e.g. the excel pivot-tool for ad hoc reports) could be useful not only for EFSA, but also for the EC and the Member States to exploit the data notified within the RASFF-network. The report includes a handbook for the tools developed.