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Safe food in the Era of Global Trade?

38/2011, 07.11.2011

Joint symposium of the BfR and the Korean Food And Drug Administration KFDA on risk perception and risk assessment

In July 2010, the Korean Food and Drug Administration KFDA and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) entered a  cooperation agreement in the area of scientific risk assessment of food and feed. "The aim of this cooperation is to exchange ideas on standards for food safety and risk assessment between Europe and Korea and, if required, to adjust any differences", says BfR President Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. Against the background of a free trade agreement between Korea and the European Union, the objective is to obtain information on the mutual strategies to improve food safety and communication of the risks arising from food. In this connection, a two-day symposium entitled "Safe Food in the Era of Global Trade? A Discourse between Consumer Perception and Scientific Risk Assessment" will take place in Seoul from 7 to 8 November 2011. This event is jointly organized by the KFDA and the BfR. It marks the beginning of a series of bilateral symposia and other events planned by the BfR and the KFDA on the subject of food safety in the face of the global flow of goods.

The symposium will focus on the one hand on strategies for successful communication of food-related risks in advanced industrial and service societies that make large-scale use of modern communications and information media. The discussion will raise the question as to what extent the communication strategy of the authorities can incorporate new dialogue-oriented social media such as Facebook, Twitter and others and what challenge they pose for them. One of the issues here is whether and to what degree the gap can be closed between public and published perceptions of possible health risks of food on the one hand and scientific assessment of these risks with regard to the potential danger they pose to health on the other. The possibilities of bilateral cooperation between the BfR and the KFDA will also be discussed in this context.

Another subject of the symposium is the question as to how findings of scientific risk assessment are communicated and how they are translated into concrete risk management measures at the national, European and even the global level. The point of discussion here will be the procedures used in the various administrative environments such as central state organisations on the one hand and decentralised structures with a separation of risk assessment and risk management on the other.

A third point for debate on the agenda are the challenges posed to risk assessment and risk management by new and increasingly complex methods of chemical food analysis and the detection of pathogenic germs in and on food against the background of the global food trade.  Processes for tracing the origin of food based on biomolecular or chemical analytical methods will also be the subject of discussion.

About the BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV). It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.


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