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International symposium: The challenge of risk assessment in times of global goods flows

47/2017, 30.11.2017

BfR, ANSES, DTU Food and NIFDS organising a joint symposium on challenges in risk assessment

Within the scope of the 15th anniversary celebrations at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the Institute is extending a joint invitation to an international symposium "Global Past, Present and Future Challenges in Risk Assessment - Strengthening Consumer Health Protection" from 30 November to 1 December 2017, along with the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Food) and South Korea’s National Institute of Food and Drug Safety Evaluation (NIFDS). The focus of the scientific presentations and discussions is placed just as much on past crises, such as the EHEC outbreak in 2011, as it is on present challenges, such as antimicrobial resistance and hormone-damaging substances, as well as the risk assessment tasks of the future, such as the harmonisation of assessment criteria on international level. The four partner institutions agree that existing data should be used to establish joint standards for scientific risk assessment on international level. The symposium is also to be used to examine how the trust of various interest groups in scientific research and risk assessment can be maintained in the future too.

On the occasion of its 15th anniversary, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and its partner institutions ANSES, DTU Food and NIFDS are taking a look back on the past one-and-a-half decades of risk assessment and casting a glance forward to future tasks and opportunities. The increasingly globalised networking of production and trading processes is raising fresh issues and challenges regarding the safety of foods and feeds, substances and products, which everyone involved along the entire complex international supply chains has to contend with. In the process, cross-border cooperation in risk assessment and consumer health protection is gaining in importance. Only through a coordinated approach on a national and international level can crises be avoided and an adequate and swift response ensured during a crisis.

During the two-day international symposium, scientists from Denmark, Germany, France, South Korea and the USA will be discussing established and groundbreaking strategies for setting the highest quality standards in consumer health protection on international level. This also involves the harmonisation of scientific findings and methods in risk assessment.

One of the topics at the symposium will be the EHEC outbreak of 2011 as an example of scientific cooperation in the risk assessment of the past. The incident constituted one of the most serious food crises in Europe in decades. According to a report by the Robert Koch Institute in the Federal Health Gazette 2013, in Germany the EHEC outbreak resulted in 53 deaths and 3,740 cases of human illness, some of them very severe.

Another main topic at the symposium will be the extent to which microbiological outbreaks like EHEC have changed scientific risk assessment in the meantime. It will also be discussed how risk assessment is currently facing up to new challenges along global supply chains in areas such as contaminants in foods, antimicrobial resistance and hormone-damaging substances. For the risk assessment of the future, it will be discussed how the exchange of scientific knowledge and experience on international level can contribute to earlier recognition and avoidance of (food) crises.

Around 300 participants are expected at the event, which will be accompanied by a poster presentation. The programme can be accessed along with other information about the international symposium at http://www.bfr-akademie.de/.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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