May 24, 2011
EFSA launches updated guidance for food and feed risk assessment of GM plants
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published updated guidance for the risk assessment of food and feed derived from genetically modified (GM) plants. The document expands on previous EFSA guidance and reflects the latest scientific developments in areas such as assessment of allergenicity and selection of the comparator plant against which the GM plant is compared. It also establishes a new statistical methodology to further strengthen the risk assessment of GM plants.
As with all EFSA guidance documents on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the Authority engaged in consultation at different stages during its development with Member States and a broad range of stakeholders. The guidance outlines methods and approaches for data generation, collection and analysis that must be followed by those submitting applications to EFSA for GM plant risk assessment. These are explained in detail in relation to the different components of the risk assessment, including molecular characterisation, field trial design, compositional analysis, toxicological assessment, allergenicity and nutritional assessment. The guidance will also support the European Commission in preparing a legal framework for the risk assessment of genetically modified food and feed.
May 26, 2011
EFSA to conduct a full risk assessment of aspartame
Since its establishment, EFSA has provided advice to the European Commission on four occasions relating to the safety of the artificial sweetener aspartame. Each time, the Authority reconsidered the need to re-evaluate the work on aspartame previously conducted by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF). Had any evidence been found that would have led EFSA’s expert Panel to reconsider the safety of aspartame, a re-evaluation would have been immediately initiated.
In May 2011, EFSA has been asked by the Commission to bring forward the full re-evaluation of the safety of aspartame to be delivered in 2012. Previously planned for completion in 2020, the review of this individual sweetener is part of the systematic re-evaluation of all authorised food additives in the European Union.
EFSA has accepted the mandate for the aspartame re-evaluation, stipulating the need for a public call for new data as well as a thorough literature review. Additionally, the Authority will liaise closely with the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) on their nutritional risk/benefit assessment of sweeteners.
May 27, 2011
EFSA monitors E.Coli outbreak
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is closely monitoring the recent outbreak of E.coli in Germany. The specific strains involved are called Shiga toxin-producing E.coli and are known to cause amongst other symptoms Haemolytic Uraemic Syndrome in humans which is acquired as a foodborne illness and can cause serious health effects.
In order to respond as quickly as possible, EFSA is liaising with the European Commission, the European Union Reference Laboratory for VTEC, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) as well as with all relevant Member States through its Advisory Forum network and has put internal procedures in place, should an urgent request for advice be required.
In collaboration with ECDC and the Member States, EFSA collects data on foodborne outbreaks across Europe on an annual basis. In such circumstances, these data serve as valuable historical records on the frequency of similar events.