Foodborne disease outbreaks: Doing the right thing at the right time with suitable means in times of crisis
Is it possible to prepare for a food crisis? How should the severity of the health risk be estimated? When and how should communication be established in a food crisis? These are only a few of the questions which will be discussed at the 2nd workshop on "Current Challenges of Risk Assessment in Food Safety" in the Cape Verdean capital Cidade de la Praia from 10 to 12 April 2018. The workshop is being organised jointly by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the Portuguese authority for food safety and economy (Autoridade de Segurança Alimentar e Económica, ASAE) and the Cape Verdean authority for the regulation and monitoring of pharmaceutical products and foods (Agência de Regulação e Supervisão dos Produtos Farmacêuticos e Alimentares de Cabo Verde, ARFA). Representatives of scientific institutions and authorities from Europe and the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa and South America will be taking part in the workshop. "In the event that an outbreak of foodborne disease develops into a crisis, appropriate political decisions have to be made under extreme time pressure," explains BfR President, Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel," and this requires the advance development of crisis plans and the build-up of the corresponding structures for risk assessment and risk communication, which then take effect immediately when a crisis occurs and which can be modified accordingly".
During the workshop itself, using the example of concrete scenarios, participants from Cabo Verde, Angola, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Mozambique are to prepare strategies for dealing with disease outbreaks caused by pathogens in and on food. In addition to the assessment of the health risk and recommendations to risk management on how to deal with each situation, the primary objective is adequate risk communication in critical situations. This must be coordinated with the communicative, technical and cultural circumstances of each respective affected region and it must also reach the people it is addressed to – representatives of the responsible authorities as well as normal people. In essence, the goal of the workshop is to develop a deeper understanding of the significance of clear structures in food safety, the advantages of effective methods of risk analysis and assessment and the great value of clear, unequivocal, consistent and timely communication of risks.
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.
This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.