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18 May 2021
Food Allergy

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the authority responsible for providing the EU and its Member States with independent scientific advice and risk assessments on food matters, with the aim of supporting the Union in maintaining and ensuring a safe food system across the territory.

In March 2021, a new EU regulation on the transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment in the food chain entered into force. The Regulation modifies EFSA's actions almost 20 years after its creation in 2002. The revision affects food allergy patients as it modifies what, when and how citizens consult EFSA’s work when assessing foods before they are commercialised in the EU.

In April 2021, EFSA opened a consultation on its draft 2022-2027 strategy to achieve its goals.

As a stakeholder to EFSA, EFA has participated in the consultation to ensure the needs of food allergy patients across Europe are met.

Civil society engagement is crucial for a successful EFSA

The EFSA 2022-2027 draft strategy founding principles and identifies and proposes addressing food issues and opportunities in the short and long run. The draft sets strategic objectives for preparedness, empowerment, and sustainability while disseminating trustworthy scientific expertise to the public.

EFA’s response to the consultation highlighted the need for a watchdog EFSA’s on food allergy issues to guarantee patients concerns are looked after, for example when assessing changing consumption patterns that leads into commercialising new foods which are potentially allergenic.

In our feedback, we outline ways to better capture patient concerns through EFSA’s infrastructure and work, such as working groups following the example of the European Medicines Agency. These types of direct collaboration are essential for the optimisation of EFSA’s programs and overall policy implementation.

We also called for a stronger integration of a “One health approach” in EFSA’s strategic foundations, to attain optimal health for people, animals and our environment. In particular, we pointed out the need to increase understanding of how to develop warning mechanisms for health-related risks through continuous exchange between EU institutions, governments and civil society representatives, including scientific experts.

EFA emphasised the importance for EFSA to not neglect its its food management mandate within its general food safety mandate. For food allergy patients, the provision of information on allergens present in food is the last step on allergic reactions preventions. The first prevention mechanisms happen in the food supply chain, in production, transportation and restauration, and as part of the food management safety, should be also carefully looked at by EFSA.

Finally, seizing the opportunities arising from technological innovations can help accelerate the adoption of allergy prevention frameworks and population management, while taking into account the raising trends in novel foods’ market access and authorisations.

What’s next?

EFSA will publish an implementation plan based on the consultation feedback provided by EFA and other organisations. If you wish to receive more information on the topic, you can visit the following link.

You can read EFA’s response to the public consultation here.