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Development and implementation of a system for the early identification of emerging risks in food and feed



According to EFSA’s Founding Regulation, the Authority is required to “undertake action to identify and characterise emerging risks” in the field of food and feed safety. EFSA provides scientific advice to the risk manager, at both European and Member State level, for the identification of risks present in the food chain. In the area of currently unrecognised but potentially significant risks for public health, EFSA has set up a dedicated unit on emerging risks (EMRISK). Through the identification of drivers of emerging risks, EFSA also intends to anticipate future risks derived from changes in current food/feed production practices or factors impinging on food/feed production or changes in human exposure through food consumption. EFSA aims to establish a data monitoring capacity, data filtering methodology and networking structures to identify emerging risks and drivers of emerging risks in a timely fashion and to communicate these to the risk manager. To date, the first step of this process (data monitoring) is in place. The following steps, that is, filtering and communication, are being rapidly established. Whilst the current data sources monitored are limited, they have been sufficient to enable the elaboration of the procedures for the next steps in the emerging risks identification process. As more data sources become accessible, the process will become more effective. All processes should be in place by mid - 2010 and reported on in EFSA’s first annual report on emerging risks in 2011. By the end of the second year of operation (2012), the soundness and utility of this approach will be given an initial review.