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According to the US Food and Drug Administration’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, food safety measures are the strongest source of confidence-building.

“What we talk about food safety is what we write about food safety, but the most important thing is what we do,” said Frank Yianna at the ONE – Health, Environment, Society – Conference in Brussels.

21.-24. The event, which runs until June, is organized by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Chemicals Agency, the European Environment Agency, the European Medicines Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Center. Center (JRC).

Yiannas gave two examples of what the FDA is doing to boost consumer confidence.

“The first is the traceability of food, we are still in the process of issuing the final rules this year. From the point of view of food safety, we know that in the event of food-related fears, the rapid arrival of this food may allow us to remove the product from the market and shorten the epidemic curve, take secondary intervention and prevent further diseases. We believe that better traceability of food lies in transparency, and increasing it in the food system will increase trust, ”he said.

“What is the opposite of food transparency? For me, what we have in today’s food system is too much anonymity, we really do not know where these products come from, under what conditions they are produced, what certificates they actually have, and consumers do not know that either.

The second operation involves data, Yiannas said.

“I often say that better food safety starts and ends with better data. We have the opportunity to use tools to turn large amounts of existing data into proactive information. This gap is huge, but new tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things are closing the gap, He said.

“In the data age, cooperation will increasingly involve the public, the public and the private sector, and public organizations that share data and turn it into information, and the whole food system will become smarter together. At the FDA, we’re working on data trusts, and that’s why we’ve launched some projects.

Yiannas said we are going through a “big drop in consumer confidence”.

“Social scientists tell us that consumers have less trust in institutions, governments, businesses, corporations and even non-profits. In addition, people are becoming increasingly polarized on issues related to politics, climate change and pandemics. What about food? Do you think we as a society are increasingly polarized about food? I think the answer is yes, “he said.

“After three decades in this job, I have to admit with sadness that I am seeing more and more that food is separating us. I think food should unite us. We hear people say I want local food, others say global food is for them. Some people want organic food and others go for regular food, it tends to be cheaper. Some eat only natural and others are suitable for processed foods. The problem today is that too much food is as harmful as too little food.

“Never before in history has there been an obligation to provide safe, accessible and sustainable food to so many shoulders, and never before have the consequences of not doing so been more significant.”

More than 4,200 participants registered for Thursday’s event online and about 1,000 registered in person. Nearly 90 percent of the latter come from Europe, the rest from Africa, Asia and North America.

EFSA position on health and cooperation

Bernhard Url, Executive Director of EFSA, said the pace of change was causing widespread uncertainty and anxiety.

“The food system is in crisis: hunger, obesity, food waste, depletion of resources and loss of biodiversity. With this conference, we want to explore how food safety and more comprehensive health assessments can contribute to the transformation of food systems,” he said at the opening of the conference.

“One health concept aims to balance and improve human, animal and environmental health. We believe that One Health’s policies make it ideal for supporting our work on the complexity and urgency of the health challenges ahead. At EFSA, we believe that the implementation of these functions will advance our food safety work and make it more fit for purpose and better communicate policies aimed at reshaping the food system. One Health acts as a springboard, combining food safety with sustainable food systems.

Url said that in order to meet the challenges ahead, it is necessary to see faster innovation in research methodologies.

“There is a problem of trust – how can we anchor our scientific advice in a society that is ready to accept it. Even if you don’t like the result due to differences in values, people trust the process, ”he said at a later panel discussion.

“Everyone is talking about cooperation and they say yes, we need to work together more, it’s pointless, but that’s not enough, what are the obstacles? I think there’s something fundamentally wrong here, so we’re adding to that. , you lose autonomy and give something for a bigger goal, which means it takes longer.There may be cultural or linguistic differences, different budget cycles and different goals for organizations.Maybe we need to make cooperation a goal for organizations, not just something that could set us apart. to help.

On the regulation of the European Commission and the role of EFSA

EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said confidence in the food safety system is the basis for more sustainable food systems.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have highlighted the need for a strong and resilient food system that always supplies enough and affordable food,” he said.

“It has also brought us to know how our health, our ecosystems, our supply chains, our consumption patterns and our planet’s boundaries are interlinked. Droughts, floods, forest fires and new pests are constantly reminding us that our food system is in danger and needs to become more sustainable and resilient.

Kyriakides also mentioned the 20th anniversary of the General Food Regulation and EFSA.

“The common definitions, objectives and general principles of the Regulation have redefined and reshaped EU food law and policy. The main one of them is the principle of risk analysis, according to which food law must be science-based, “he said.

“EFSA’s scientific excellence has provided a solid scientific basis for EU action. It has maintained confidence in the EU’s food supply. It has raised EU food safety and standards and certainly helped to raise international standards. Thanks to EFSA and general food law, the European Union can be proud to have one of the strongest and most efficient food safety systems in the world.

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