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Scientific Opinion on Priority topics for the development of risk assessment guidance by EFSA’s Scientific Committee

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) asked its Scientific Committee to review its own cross cutting risk assessment Guidance Documents to identify gaps requiring either the development of new guidance or the revision of existing guidance. The Scientific Committee identified topics for further strategic discussion without ranking their priority. Four topics were identified as gaps requiring the development of new guidance: the interpretation of epidemiological studies; the use of weight of evidence approach in risk assessment; the identification of biological relevance in toxicology; import risk assessment. Two topics were identified where existing guidance documents require updating or follow up: harmonisation of the assessment of human exposure; terminology in risk assessment. Work for the development of guidance documents is already ongoing on environmental risk assessment, and uncertainty in risk assessment. The assessment of food allergenicity was identified as a further topic where the development of guidance document would be beneficial to applicants and for risk assessment by EFSA. There are some developing scientific issues (e.g. omics, synthetic biology) which the Scientific Committee considers to be too premature for the development of meaningful guidance but which EFSA should keep under review and, when appropriate, should evaluate their importance for food safety risk assessment. The topics identified in this opinion will be discussed further within EFSA to develop its multiannual workplan, the strategic work programme of the Scientific Committee and future priorities.