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EFSA reports set to inspire future risk communications in Europe


Four new reports published today by EFSA will provide a vast amount of technical information and best practice advice to help shape a future EU-wide food safety ‘General Plan for Risk Communication’.

The Transparency Regulation (2019/1381) introduced new provisions calling for an integrated framework for risk communication The interactive exchange of information and opinions throughout the risk analysis process, including the explanation of risk assessment findings and the basis of risk management decisions. The levels of interactive exchange include: the dissemination of public information about risks to consumers or other affected groups; the dialogue within and between risk assessment and risk management; engagement with interested parties affected by risk analysis outcomes. by EU food safety risk assessors and risk managers at Union and national level.

Barbara Gallani, Head of Communication, Engagement and Cooperation at EFSA, said: “The General Plan will help food safety authorities in Europe to better coordinate their respective risk communication tasks, and provide more consistent advice and information for the benefit of EU consumers and food safety stakeholders”.

The European Commission is leading the implementation of the General Plan. The Commission asked EFSA to support its development by providing insights from social research and mapping existing risk communication structures and best practice by food safety authorities across the EU. The resulting package of four reports were developed jointly by EFSA, academic experts and partner organisations in the Member States.

Ms Gallani stated: “EFSA is grateful to all our national partners and the many leading risk communication experts who supported this work, including during a public consultation on our scientific report. These efforts are set to inspire and inform the future General Plan framework and we are ready to support the Commission and national authorities in this process.”

The communications team at EFSA is reviewing the rich array of findings to be found in the reports with a view to improve our working practices and to overhaul our best practice Risk Communication Handbook, related materials and training programmes.

“We are planning some exciting social research projects too to help meet specific new requirements introduced by the Transparency Regulation. This includes helping our audiences understand the difference between ‘ hazard A substance or activity which has the potential to cause adverse effects to living organisms or environments.’ and ‘risk’, two fundamental concepts in scientific risk assessment  A specialised field of applied science that involves reviewing scientific data and studies in order to evaluate risks associated with certain hazards. It involves four steps: hazard identification, hazard characterisation, exposure assessment and risk characterisation..”

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