EFSA News Story, 4 December 2009
Members of the European Food Safety Authority’s Stakeholder Consultative Platform met on 1 and 2 December 2009 for the first time since being re-appointed by EFSA’s Management Board in October. Representatives of the 24 EU-wide organisations working in areas related to the food chain took part in discussions on the evaluation of the first series of Article 13 health claims, the risk assessment of GMOs, EFSA’s approach on emerging risks and nanotechnology.
Welcoming members to Parma, EFSA’s Executive Director Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle spoke of the crucial support and advice the Platform brings to EFSA’s activities, citing its involvement in a number of technical meetings (GMOs, pesticides, animal health) and working groups.
Geslain-Lanéelle reminded stakeholders of the objectives of the health claims regulation, stressing that EFSA’s scientific advice provides consumers with an independent guarantee of the truthfulness of claims as EFSA only endorses claims that are backed by sound science. EFSA’s evaluations can also support industry in setting out future directions for innovation based on sound science, she said.
During presentations on EFSA’s scientific work, Juliane Kleiner, head of the Dietetic products, nutrition and allergies (NDA) unit, addressed aspects of EFSA’s assessment of health claims, referring to an updated briefing document for Member States. Touching on a number of issues, she explained what is meant when a cause and effect relationship has not been established, or when there is insufficient evidence to make an evaluation. She also pointed to limitations in using references, which may not be readily available or which do not provide all the data on the claim, and acknowledged that studies that do not support the claim could be left out.
Continuing EFSA’s dialogue with stakeholders on GMOs, GMO unit head Per Bergman spoke on cooperation in GMO risk assessment and interaction with stakeholders, and explained ongoing updates on GMO risk assessment guidance, such as environmental risk assessment, molecular characterisation and the allergenicity assessment of GM plants. Platform members were given updates on EFSA’s strategy for the identification of emerging risks in the food/feed chain in the medium and long-term, and on EFSA’s preparedness for possible future applications for nano materials in the food and feed area. Platform members were briefed on work in progress on a draft review of EFSA’s communications strategy and were invited to provide input.
EFSA Stakeholders’ Platform, first set up in 2005, is an important forum for exchange and dialogue on key issues. The Platform advises EFSA’s Executive Director on areas related to EFSA’s work and in particular the impact of EFSA’s work on stakeholders.