01 December 2021
Food Allergy
INFORM, - Food Safety

On 9-10th November 2021, EFA attended the Stakeholder Forum of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the annual meeting that brings together EFSA’s stakeholders from civil society, including consumer organisations, NGOs, the hospitality sector, academics, and the food industry. 

The first day kicked-off with an overview of the ‘EFSA Stakeholder Engagement Approach journey’. Driven by the new EU Transparency Regulation, which took effect in March 2021, EFSA has embraced a wholly new way of stakeholder engagement. To achieve this, EFSA has committed to the principles of greater transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness as well as opening new channels of engagement with stakeholders. The agency also plans to invest in the immediate future in the current issues of circular economy, preparedness, and the upgrade of existing tools for engagement.

Keeping in the spirit of novel elements to be soon introduced into its work, EFSA presented the Digital Stakeholder Community Platform: a pilot project to create a digital engagement space for stakeholders. EFSA aims to develop it into a topic-based interactive platform that offers better access to information and exchanges compared to existing tools. Among others, the platform will make it possible to upload material, chat on timely issues and directly interact with EFSA officers. You can find the main details of the new platform in this short video.

The second day of the meeting featured keynote speeches by the EFSA Executive Director, Bernhard Url, as well as key institutional representatives. In his address, Mr Url emphasised EFSA’s focus to develop smart processes for better preparedness and public trust. In both functions stakeholders can play an important role, and so EFSA is keen to build ecosystems of diverse actors that interact based on shared values and objectives. 

Moving towards a more regulatory discussion, Ms Alexandra Nikolakopoulou from DG SANTE, responsible for the Farm-to-Fork Strategy, discussed the need for a paradigm change to enable a more sustainable food system. From the Commission’s perspective, this includes the proposal of a new EU regulation, which is currently under consultation. 

Bringing the perspective of food allergy patients, EFA highlighted the importance of the existing EU Regulation on Food Information to Consumers but also communicated to the participants the existing gaps that need to be addressed to better protect people with food allergy. With regards to Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL), which is currently not based on harmonised rules, Ms Nikolakopoulou acknowledged that the Commission has not delivered yet on this key area for patients. As discussions with EU Member States on the issue are ongoing, we need to wait for their outcome.

In his closing remarks, Mr Url reiterated his commitment for a more open and accessible EFSA and called to make transdisciplinary collaboration a central policy objective.

You can see the full agenda of the meeting here.