EFSA@10 – Conference opens with call to further strengthen risk assessment ‘community’

Posted: 7 November 2012 | European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) | No comments yet

Hundreds of the world’s leading food safety experts are gathering in Parma this week…

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Hundreds of the world’s leading food safety experts are gathering in Parma this week to take part in a high-level scientific conference organised by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to mark its tenth anniversary.

The two-day event, “Challenging boundaries in risk assessment – sharing experiences”, which kicked off this morning (7 November), brings together global specialists from a wide range of scientific disciplines who will be debating the frontiers in risk assessment and considering future key issues and opportunities.

Following a welcome address by EFSA Executive Director Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle reaffirming EFSA’s commitment to expanding risk assessment capacity in Europe, other top level speakers during the morning’s introductory plenary session were Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Adviser to the European Commission, Jesse Goodman of the US Food and Drug Administration and EFSA expert and professor of University of Rome 2 Vittorio Silano.

In a keynote presentation to delegates, Hubert Deluyker, EFSA’s Director of Science Strategy and Coordination, outlined the Authority’s critical role in developing risk assessment in Europe, emphasised the necessity for a continued commitment to scientific cooperation and re-affirmed the need for a regulatory environment that evolves with scientific developments yet remains predictable.

“EFSA functions thanks to the EU risk assessment community,” said Dr Deluyker. “And we are central to its progress, for instance through the development of guidance that has harmonised and modernised methodologies relating to risk assessment for food and feed over the past decade.”

The context in which the Authority operates has evolved significantly in recent years – driven both by advancements in science and technology as well as changes in the legislative framework. This has seen an increased emphasis in EFSA’s workload towards the evaluation of regulated products, environmental risk assessment and post-market monitoring. These changes have been reflected in EFSA’s recently developed Science Strategy.

Dr Deluyker called for a debate on how risk assessment organisations such as EFSA can best focus their finite resources in the face of growing and evolving demands for their expertise from regulatory authorities and different stakeholder groups.

“A core challenge is about where we focus our time and effort to continue to make progress in protecting consumers,” said the Director of Science Strategy and Coordination.

While cooperation with public health bodies and research institutes is critical for EFSA’s work, stakeholders also have an important role to play in the risk assessment community, for example, by collecting and sharing of data with public authorities.

Following this morning’s plenary session, delegates will have the opportunity to attend five parallel sessions after lunch. The sessions, each consisting of six presentations, will focus on: identifying and characterising hazards; environmental risk assessment; dietary exposure in risk assessment; risk characterisation and efficacy assessment in food and feed.