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EFSA Holds Food Safety Conference in Parma, Italy

Posted: November 9, 2012

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently gathered food safety experts from around the world in a variety of disciplines to the discuss limitations of risk assessment as well as future key issues and opportunities. 

Hundreds of experts in the field of food safety attended the scientific conference held in Parma, Italy. The two-day event called "Sharing Experiences Challenging Boundaries in Risk Assessment," featured speakers such as Anne Glover, chief scientific adviser for the European Commission; Jesse Goodman of the U.S. federal agency for food and drug monitoring, and EFSA expert professor Vittorio Silano of the University of Rome II. 

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, EFSA's executive director, reiterated the organization's commitment in relation to the development of risk assessment capacity in Europe. Meanwhile, Hubert Deluyker, EFSA's director of scientific strategy and scientific coordination, said the EFSA works due to the community of the EU risk assessment. "And we have contributed substantially to the progress of their progress, for example through the development of guidelines by which the methods of risk assessment of food and feed have been harmonized in the course of the past decade and modernized," he added.

The environment in which the authority operates has changed considerably in recent years and expanded, driven both by advances in science and technology as well as changes to the regulatory framework. As a result, the EFSA has a progressive review of regulated products, environmental impact assessment and post-market surveillance. 

"A key challenge is the question of what we spend our time and effort to focus on in order to make further progress in consumer protection," said Deluyker.

Professor Steve Hathaway, from the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries, emphasized the dual importance of well-formulated risk management questions and a flexible approach to the risk assessment methodology. The sessions also included a talk about how collaboration with public health organizations and research institutes for EFSA's work is essential, as well as the stakeholders' critical role in the risk assessment community such as the collection and exchange of data with the authorities.

Following the morning plenary session, the conference offered five parallel sessions. These six lectures comprehensive sessions dealt with the following topics: identification and description of hazards and potential risks, environmental, dietary exposure in risk assessment, risk characterization and efficacy assessment in food and feed.

In the final plenary session, bridging from academic research to regulatory science, Henrik Caspar Wegener of the Technical University of Denmark considered how data used for the scientific judgments inherent in risk assessment could be improved if the research that generates most of these data were to place a greater emphasis on their use for assessing risk.