The agency added Europe is one of the largest exporters of food commodities from the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) partner countries.
It made the comments in a report after a project on European neighbourhood activities from 1 February 2014 to 31 January 2016.
Understand different food safety systems
The outcome enabled better understanding of the ENP countries food safety systems and similarities with those in the EU and the member states regarding separation of risk management and risk assessment.
Partner countries were Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the State of Palestine, Tunisia and Ukraine.
ENP partner countries said they had improved their knowledge on food safety and the work of EFSA, the EU Member States and the European Commission.
They underlined the needs for strengthening cooperation regionally and with EU institutions and Members States as well as the importance of further training in food safety risk analysis.
“It also appeared that the participants appreciated having the opportunity to share their experience and difficulties in their work with experts from EFSA and Member States and to extend the network of people with experience in the same field," according to the report.
“Future inter-institutional exchange (particularly between scientific institutions) and transfer of experiences was also highly valued among the participants and can be taken into consideration during the preparation of the activities for the next ENP programmes.”
EFSA said it had established initial contacts and gathered information to better understand partner countries needs and priorities, and to map risk assessment resources and capacities.
Neighbourhood activities and upcoming almanac
The first two visits took place in Morocco, on 15 July and Moldova, on 22 July 2014.
A trip to Jordan, on 28-29 April 2015 was organised with the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA). The meeting was attended by 33 participants from national food authorities.
The second visit in Azerbaijan, on 2 July 2015 was organised with the Ministry of Agriculture and EU Delegation in Azerbaijan where 21 participants from national food authorities.
In addition to EFSA experts, the session was supported by the director of the Latvian Institute of Food Safety (BIOR) and the EU Delegation representative who presented.
At the time Jordan was revising food safety legislation while Azerbaijan was restructuring food safety authorities and amending the legislation.
Representatives from national authorities of Palestine and Israel were invited to Parma for an info session on food safety topics of common concerns including best practices in risk assessment of mycotoxins, zoonoses and foodborne outbreaks.
EFSA is also preparing the ENP Food Safety Almanac – country profiles on food safety to provide an overview of the legal basis, responsible institutions and structures at regional and local level.
Profiles from 12 ENP countries have been received including Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Moldova, Morocco, Palestine, Armenia, Georgia, Egypt, Belarus, Ukraine and Tunisia.
The Almanac, a joint initiative between EFSA, BfR (the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) and the ENP institutions, is expected to be published by the end of 2016.
Meanwhile, EFSA held a food safety risk assessment workshop in Podgorica, Montenegro last month.
About 30 scientific officers, risk assessors, risk managers and communication specialists from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the FYR of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey attended the three-day event.
The training was organised under EFSA’s Pre-Accession Programme and financed by the European Commission.