EFSA is set to increase the number of technical hearings it offers to applicants to give them greater opportunity to discuss outstanding questions about their applications during the food and feed additive risk assessment process.
Steve Pagani, a spokesperson for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), told feednavigator.com the move is part of the Parma based agency’s bid to make it more “customer orientated.”
“The team here, to be fair, is always looking to find ways to better engage with stakeholders, whether that is individual companies, food safety agencies or member states,” he said.
Upon request from EFSA, applicants will be invited to speak to the Authority’s working groups - either in person or via teleconference - to clarify outstanding issues about their submitted data, said the agency.
When asked how EFSA will manage applicants’ expectations about what can be achieved at these technical hearings, Pagani said that:
“It is up to both sides to use these opportunities to get and give as much information as possible concerning the feed or food product in question. Look, we will be learning as we go, as well. This is a first step in terms of developing an evaluation process that is more interactive and responsive.”
The spokesperson said the trigger for the more streamlined customer service approach was the learnings generated by the stakeholders’ survey that the Authority carried out last year.
“And we intend to have more reviews of this nature, to regularly seek applicants’ opinion of how we are conducting the risk assessment process. If they don’t agree with certain procedures, applicants now have a way of getting those viewpoints heard,” said Pagani.
Per Bergman, who leads EFSA’s work on regulated products, said:
“Enhancing two-way communication with applicants during the evaluation process will allow us to better explain the information we need to review applications and will make it possible for working groups to seek clarifications regarding information once submitted to us.
This will help to improve the service we provide and streamline the risk assessment process.”
EFSA said some of the new ‘customer orientated’ initiatives in terms of streamlining feed, food and other product applications include the following:
- Applicants can request a teleconference with EFSA staff to clarify the issues raised by the Authority.
- EFSA will inform applicants by email and update the Register of Questions shortly after a relevant scientific opinion has been adopted by one of its scientific panels.
- EFSA will develop a dedicated webpage with an overview of all the dates of the plenary meetings of its scientific panels for regulated products.
- By the end of 2014, EFSA will launch a regular online newsletter outlining key developments in its work on regulated products.
Top down more open risk assessment
June 1 saw Dr Bernhard Url officially appointed the new executive director of EFSA. He referenced transparency and trust in his welcoming statement.
“I commit myself to working with staff, scientific experts, European institutions, member states and stakeholders to uphold EFSA’s core values and to work towards more open risk assessment and further building trust," said the head of the Authority.
He has been acting head of the Parma, Italy-based agency since last September 2013 when Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle left to take a position in a French government agency.