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15 BfR committees currently advise the BfR, thus enhancing the quality of the opinions produced by the BfR and forming an external quality assurance system. The BfR committees usually convene twice a year. By performing these honorary duties, the committee members support the work of the BfR as external, independent experts.
Through the BfR committees, the expert knowledge available in Germany is consolidated on the highest possible scientific level. In this way, an established network can be called upon for advice, not only in times of crisis.
In 2008, the BfR founded 14 scientific committees to advise the institute in the fields of food and feed, chemical and product safety. After public announcement and selection by the appointing panel set up especially for this purpose, a minimum of ten experts were appointed to each committee for the period up to 2010.
While appointing new members to the committees for the period 2011 to 2013, the newly established BfR Committee for Risk Research and Risk Perception started its activities.
The BfR Committees
- Consumer Products
- Assessment of Intoxications
- Biological Hazards
- Nutrition, Dietetic Products, Novel Foods and Allergies
- Exposure Assessment and Exposure Standardisation
- Feeds and Animal Nutrition
- Genetically Modified Food and Feed
- Contaminants and Other Undesirable Substances in the Food Chain
- Food additives, Flavourings and Processing Aids
- Pesticides and their Residues
- Pharmacologically Active Substances and Veterinary Medicinal Products
- Risk Research and Risk Perception
- Wine and Fruit Juice Analyses
Additional expert committees
Independent of these newly convened BfR committees, the National Breastfeeding Committee is also located at the BfR.
Three appointment procedures have been carried out (2007, 2010, 2013) since the establishment of the BfR committees. Within the scope of a comprehensive and transparent appointment process, all of the experts interested in getting involved in a BfR committee are invited initially per public announcement to submit their applications. The appointing panel set up especially for this purpose then selects suitable candidates from the group of applicants. The appointing panel is made up of members of the BfR Scientific Advisory Board, the chairs of the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) Senate Committees for the Health Assessment of Food and of Substances and Resources in Agriculture, and a representative of the Senate of Federal Research Agencies.
The appointing panel nominated a total of 187 experts as BfR committee members for the period 2014 to 2017. They come from universities and other research institutions, national and regional authorities, trade and consumer associations, private laboratories and industry. Overall, roughly 50 of the experts come from universities and university clinics, including poison information centres, and non-university research institutions such as the Fraunhofer institutes, 34 % from authorities such as the federal research institutions and regional investigation offices and 16 % from enterprises and industrial associations. Around 12 % of the committee members do not work in Germany.
Most of the committee members have a post-graduate university degree and many years of professional experience in the relevant fields of science. Selection was made under consideration of the principle of the equality of women and men. The list of members of the individual committees can be accessed by the public on the BfR website.
Independence and transparency
Transparency is a fundamental aspect of the work of the BfR which is essential for sound and trustworthy risk communication.
Even during the application stage, the interested experts commit themselves to act independently and in the public interest as committee members. Any conflicts of interest with the topics dealt with in the BfR committees must be recorded in writing. To this end, the members sign a corresponding declaration which is published in the internet. In addition to this, oral inquiries about topics dealt with by the committees which could conflict with the interests of the members are made at the start of every meeting and the results are recorded in the minutes.
The minutes of the meetings which form the basis of the scientific views and resolutions of the committees are made available to the general public through the BfR website. The resolutions of the committees are of an advisory nature and are included where necessary as important reference points in BfR assessments and opinions.
Exchange with national and international bodies
Through the expert opinions of BfR, the consolidated expertise of the BfR Committees can also have some influence in national and international bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The BfR committees reflect this in the areas in which the responsibilities and expertise of the EFSA comply with those of the BfR. German members of the scientific committees of the EFSA can automatically become members of the corresponding BfR committees, thus facilitating the greatest possible exchange of expertise between the national and European levels.
|Questions and Answers on Ensuring the Independence of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)||
Press information(1 document)
|BfR sets up national expert committees for food safety and consumer protection|