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Prof Pieter Gouws attended a SA-EU workshop on food safety and risk assessment
Author: Prof P. Gouws
Published: 07/10/2019

​​​It is clear from representatives from the European Union (EU), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) that food safety research and systems need to be transparent, independent and based on science.

The main points discussed are:

• The goal of an effective food safety system must be to protect and improve public health by ensuring that foods meet science-based safety standards through the integrated activities of the public and private sectors.

• Risk assessment, risk management and risk communication must be the basis of adopting any new food safety measures.

• Stakeholders involvement must be a priority in developing risk assessment strategies.

• It is imperative that data should be shared by all stakeholders.

• Methods used in laboratories should be of international standard (ISO methods) or alternative methods can be used if the methods are validated.

Experts from the EFSA have provided scientific information on 𝐿𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑎 𝑚𝑜𝑛𝑜𝑐𝑦𝑡𝑜𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑠 and the risk to consumers.

They conclude that between 2008 and 2015, 𝐿𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑎 cases in the EU increased among two groups of the population: people over 75 and women aged 25-44 (believed to be mainly pregnancy-related).

Cases of listeriosis in humans in the EU have decreased slightly in 2017 where 2,480 infections were reported, against 2,509 in 2016. However, the trend has been upward over the past five years.

​Current food safety 'hot topics' include: antimicrobial resistance, food safety of new food products, zoonotic diseases (including food borne diseases) and chemical contamination of food.