EFSA stakeholders outline the importance of quality data for risk assessments
Members of the European Food Safety Authority’s Stakeholder Consultative Platform met in Brussels on 17 and 18 November 2011 to discuss, amongst other agenda items, the Authority’s draft Science Strategy, its new Applications Helpdesk and its Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database. There were also constructive debates on EFSA’s ongoing work on the concept of Threshold of Toxicological Concern and presentations from two Platform members on the subject of Good Laboratory Practices (GLP). Both are areas of science which attract considerable public debate and EFSA benefitted from hearing the views and opinions of meeting participants. Representatives of the 24 EU-wide organisations working in areas related to the food chain actively took part in all the discussions.
At the beginning of the meeting, EFSA’s Director of Science Strategy and Co-ordination, Hubert Deluyker, presented the Authority’s draft Science Strategy, which was made available for public consultation earlier this year. Stakeholders stressed the importance of ensuring that EFSA’s risk assessments are based on the highest quality of data. This was considered fundamental by many participants to enable EFSA to provide policy-makers with the best possible scientific advice.
Hubert Deluyker illustrated the importance of high calibre data collection in supporting EFSA’s work on the food safety and animal health-related aspects of zoonotic diseases. Data collected in Member States are analysed by EFSA and the Authority’s resulting scientific advice helps European risk managers to set policies and make decisions to protect consumers. More than 320,000 human cases of zoonotic diseases were confirmed in the European Union in 2009, but the real number is likely to be much higher.
Acting Director of EFSA’s Directorate on the Scientific Evaluation of Regulated Products, Per Bergman, explained that a growing part of the Authority’s work relates to the safety assessment of regulated products, substances and claims submitted for authorisation in the European Union. He informed the Platform that EFSA has recently established an Applications Helpdesk Unit to act as a ‘front office’ and ‘support desk’, providing information and support primarily for stakeholders and Member States. The first task of the Unit has been to launch a new information service on the EFSA website, which allows users to access information and submit questions about applications.. Per Bergman also shared plans for EFSA’s Applications Helpdesk Unit which, in the future, will be responsible for centralising and processing the initial administrative steps of all applications within EFSA.