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BfR and aid infodienst agree cooperation

08/2009, 11.05.2009

More extensive cooperation on communication on the health risks of foods

"10,000 deaths caused by acrylamide"- this is just one of many headlines that has caused uncertainty amongst consumers in recent years. The risk assessment of undesirable substances or pesticide residues in foods is frequently dominated by negative or sensationalist media coverage. Often, health risks are claimed that would not stand up to objective scrutiny. Consumers ask themselves whether the food they eat every day is really safe. According to a survey by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), they now see food as one of the three biggest health risks. Against this backdrop, objective evaluations are more sought after than ever. BfR and aid infodienst, therefore, signed a cooperation agreement on 11 May 2009. "In future, we would like to counter perceived risks with additional, objective information on the actual scale of risks," said BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel at the signing of the agreement in Berlin. "More rapid communication paths from consumers to scientists and vice versa will help to calm any uncertainties." The combining of scientific risk assessment with information tailored to consumers is the main pillar of this cooperation. "By speaking with one voice, we can help to further improve communication with consumers," added Dr. Margret Büning-Fesel, Executive Director of aid.

Both partners work independently and orient their work results towards scientific findings. Existing contacts will be enhanced through this cooperation. In future, the respective topics and work areas will be identified and pegged out in a joint working group. aid - an institution with close contacts to consumers - will raise the subjects of direct interest to them.  BfR scientists will provide aid with the necessary scientific facts on the individual topics.

A recent example of this cooperation is the rewriting of the aid brochure “Acrylamid - 10 Fragen, 10 Antworten” that will be published (in German only) in the course of the next few weeks. Furthermore, both institutions are working on a hotly debated issue that is unsettling more and more people as scarcely any information is available on it: nanotechnology in foods. aid is about to fill this information gap with a flyer for consumers.

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