EuChemS engages with the European Food Safety Authority
On 17 and 18 October, EuChemS was invited as an academic stakeholder to join the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA)’s annual Stakeholder Forum in Parma, Italy. The yearly Forum provides an opportunity for its stakeholders, which are divided between various groups (Business groups, consumer organisations, NGOs, and academia, amongst others), to discuss with EFSA some of the issues encountered so far, and in particular, how to build better channels of interaction and engagement. In the context of the review of the General Food Law, EFSA has moreover been allocated new tasks and responsibilities – therefore requiring a new degree of transparency, oversight and stronger and more efficient engagement with its official stakeholders.
The October meeting was the third EFSA stakeholder forum, and its focus was on risk assessment processes. EuChemS has moreover been quick to identify and point out the issue of scientific uncertainty as a key topic to be further addressed in risk assessment processes. To that end, EuChemS responded to a public consultation launched by EFSA, where we highlighted the need for a clearer distinction to be made between measurement uncertainty (associated with scientific processes) and uncertainty caused by other sources (such as through government actions (or lack of actions)). We also encouraged EFSA to align their terminology with existing international terminology.
The dialogues centred around key topics such as creating space for scientific discussions, mechanisms for collecting stakeholder input beyond risk assessment, means of involving stakeholders in early horizon scanning activities. The Stakeholder Forum was successful in its ability to create open, honest and efficient means of dialogue between various organisations with very different goals and expertise and with EFSA itself.