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Tunisia: Food safety crisis exercise

35/2022, 06.10.2022

Practical test should help to be prepared in case of emergency

Worldwide, it is the task of the authorities responsible for food safety to react quickly, efficiently and appropriately in crises and to protect the population from health hazards. For a practical test of the Tunisian crisis management system, around 50 Tunisian representatives of the authorities met in Tunis from 4 to 6 October 2022. With the support of experts from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food (BVL), they simulated a foodborne disease outbreak.

Foodborne disease outbreaks in particular can quickly develop into crisis events. In order to rehearse successful crisis management, the BVL and the BfR practised a crisis together with the Tunisian food safety authorities INSSPA (Instance Nationale de la Sécurité Sanitaire des Produits Alimentaires) and ANCSEP (Agence Nationale de Contrôle Sanitaire et Environnemental des Produits, henceforth ANER) as part of a project on food safety and consumer health protection in Tunisia.

Representatives of the Tunisian Ministry of Health and other ministries, the risk management authority INSSPA and the risk assessment authority ANCSEP as well as laboratories and regional authorities rehearsed the emergency, simulating the spread of contaminated food. Fast action was then also required here. This is because the rapid exchange of information between the consumer health protection authorities at all levels is decisive for a successful outbreak investigation.

Experts from BVL and BfR had provided a challenging scenario and background information for the exercise and shared their knowledge for successful crisis preparedness, outbreak response and crisis communication. The exercise had previously been precisely adapted to the circumstances in Tunisia and designed to be very realistic, supplemented by the simulation of a press conference on the outbreak.

The involvement of different partner institutions in the workshop provided a unique opportunity to use the collective expertise of all participants and to put the current food safety crisis management system in Tunisia to the test and draw conclusions for its future developments.

German consumers also benefit because with the increasing globalisation of the food market, local foodborne disease outbreaks can take on cross-border or even multinational significance. Routine detection, reporting, investigation and control are necessary to guarantee rapid action by the authorities in the event of an outbreak.


The BfR and the BVL cooperate at various levels with authorities in other countries. With this international commitment, they are pursuing the goal of sustainably strengthening food safety in the producer countries through partnerships and thus also guaranteeing a high level of consumer protection in Germany and Europe in this way.

In 2019, a new food safety law came into force in Tunisia, which provides for the establishment of effective official structures for risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. Together, BfR and BVL support the Tunisian partners in the implementation.

The project "Strengthening Food Safety and Consumer Health Protection in Tunisia" is the first project based on the "Agreement on the Integration of BMEL (Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture) Business Area Institutions in Development Cooperation Projects". The purpose is to integrate the BMEL division into the development cooperation of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Press Release in French

About the BVL

The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) is an independent higher federal authority in the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The BVL contributes to food safety with a wide range of measures. In crisis management, the BVL has a coordinating role. It also issues authorisations and coordinates monitoring programmes together with the federal states. Within the framework of the European rapid alert system, the BVL ensures the flow of information between the EU and the federal states.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment ( BfR ) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture ( BMEL) in Germany. The BfR advises the Federal Government and the Federal States ("Laender") on questions of food, chemicals and product safety. The BfR conducts its independent research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.


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