Independent, science-based risk assessment essential for consumer health protection
Independent risk assessment on the basis of science-based facts is indispensable for consumer health protection. This is the conclusion arrived at by Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, during today’s visit to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). "New studies and scientific findings are being published every day in the field of consumer health protection. Many consumers feel unsettled by this wealth of information. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment makes it easier for consumers to find their way around. It is important for the general public as well as politics to have an independent body that conveys reliable facts and recommendations on consumer health protection on the basis of scientific data. The BfR does excellent work in this area". BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel explains: "In times of globalised food chains and constantly new products and materials, it is important to establish and harmonise global standards in the field of food and product safety. To this end, the BfR collaborates with cooperation partners on all continents." Other topics of the meeting included the BfR MEAL Study, the contribution of the BfR to the German Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy (DART) and the presentation of the German Centre for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (Bf3R).
Minister Schmidt visited the kitchen, which has been set up especially for the BfR MEAL Study in which up to 60,000 dishes are to be prepared and homogenised in the coming years. In the course of the BfR MEAL Study, the institute is testing foods for various substances, such as nutrients, heavy metals and additives, for the first time in Germany in order to determine the mean concentrations of these substances in the average human diet. In doing so, the BfR MEAL Study pays due consideration to the entire range of foods and analyses each of them in the condition in which they are typically consumed. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) is sponsoring the study, which is scheduled to run for seven years, with approx. 13 million euros.
Resistance to antibiotics is one of the main topics in the debate surrounding the safety of foods. As bacteria with antimicrobial resistance can be transferred between humans and animals, the BfR is investigating in particular the mechanisms which cause the spread of the bacteria and resistant genes. The National Reference Laboratory for Antimicrobial Resistance, which is located at the BfR, is examining the isolates sent in by the monitoring authorities of the federal states with regard to their resistance properties. In addition to all of this, the BfR is involved in various joint scientific research projects to identify and characterise antimicrobially resistant bacteria. These include the EsRAM and EFFORT research alliances, which examine the development, spread and resistance mechanisms of Escherichia coli and other bacteria to certain antibiotics in humans and animals and in which the BfR is involved along with other scientific institutions and universities. The BMEL promotes these and other research projects within the scope of the German Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy (DART 2020) with the goal of reducing the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance.
The German Centre for the Protection of Laboratory Animals (Bf3R) was established at the BfR in 2015 as part of the BMEL animal welfare initiative. The Centre coordinates all activities throughout Germany with the goal of reducing animal experiments to the absolutely essential minimum and guaranteeing the greatest possible protection to laboratory animals. The Centre also supports national and international research activities for the protection of laboratory animals and promotes scientific discourse. The Centre received 6 million euros from the BMEL at the start of Bf3R in 2015 to fund the initially required equipment and also has an annual sum of roughly 1.5 million euros at its disposal.
About the BfR
The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.
The BfR is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, the institute has published a jubilee brochure (in German) which can be downloaded or ordered free of charge at http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/publication/brochures-61045.html.
This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.