A variety of bacterial and fungal species are used in food and feed production. Some of these have a long history of safe use, while others may represent a putative risk for consumers. In order to capture important risk aspects without wasting resources on thorough investigations of microorganisms that are known to be safe, there is a need for development of a tool for setting priorities within the risk assessment of microorganisms in the production of food and feed.
To explore the possibility of a system, similar in concept and purpose to the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) definition used in the USA, a working paper for public consultation was prepared jointly by the former DG SANCO Scientific Committees on Food, Animal Nutrition and Plants. The proposed approach, referred to as QPS or Qualified Presumption of Safety was published on the internet and was open for comments during 2003. To have an open scientific debate on the QPS approach, EFSA organized its second Scientific Colloquium on 13-14 December 2004 in Brussels, Belgium.
About 100 participants representing the scientific community, risk managers, risk assessors and food/feed industry participated in an active debate. After a number of introductory presentations, participants were split up in smaller discussion groups each addressing different specific issues related to the QPS approach. Subsequently, the outcome of the debate from each group was presented and discussed in plenum.