Food safety in Latin America: key regional aspects and global challenges

"Building-up a Regional Approach" to food safety is the goal of the international researchers who will be attending the event in Uruguay from 27 to 29 August 2019. The primary focus of the symposium is the scientific assessment of chemical and microbiological risks in food. Interactive workshops will be used to pool the findings. "In today’s complex and increasingly interconnected world, the global structures of production and trade can also be said to be globalising health risks," comments Professor Andreas Hensel, President of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). "The symposium offers a forum for sharing experiences and promoting the development of risk assessment as part of good practice in food safety in Latin American countries. We also welcome this opportunity to use the expertise of the BfR to benefit the South America region."

The symposium is organised jointly by the BfR and the Uruguayan Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP), with the support of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Portuguese Economic and Food Safety Authority (ASAE), the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN), the Spanish Agency for Medicine and Health Products (AEMPS), the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the Chilean Agency for Food Safety and Quality (ACHIPIA), the Uruguayan National Agency for Research and Innovation (ANII), the Uruguayan National Meat Institute (INAC), the Uruguayan National Agricultural Research Institute (INIA), the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay (LATU), and the Uruguayan University of the Republic.

As production and trade chains become increasingly interconnected worldwide, there is a growing need for collaboration on food safety and consumer health protection at a global level. International structures in risk assessment and risk management have a key role to play here. The Latin American symposium is designed to generate strategies for expanding state-run risk assessment and food control activities in Latin American countries. These strategies will be derived from risk assessment structures in Germany and Europe, as well as good practice in assessing microbial and substance-related risks.

Symposium findings will be interpreted in the context of risk analysis and assessment in Latin America, as well as the hurdles and challenges faced in this region. The primary aim here is to use an evidence-based approach to further improve the structures for food safety and consumer health protection in Latin America.

A topic related to this main objective of the symposium is risk assessment and its role in outbreaks related to food safety such as the EHEC outbreak in 2011. The incident was one of the most serious cases of foodborne illness in Europe in recent memory. The EHEC outbreak resulted in 53 deaths in Germany, with 3,740 people falling ill, some with very serious symptoms. During the symposium, experts from Germany and Spain will provide an overview of the outbreak as it developed at the time in their countries, as well as the most important lessons learned.

Another point of focus of the symposium is the health of livestock reared for food as well as the safety of the food products made from these animals. In this context, symposium delegates will be looking at the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry and the associated risks of medicine residues in food products, as well as the spread of antibiotic resistance in pathogens. Various approaches to measuring the administration of antibiotics to animals and the safety of foods of animal origin will be discussed.

Interactive workshops will be held on the second day of the symposium. Two separate outbreak scenarios will be simulated, with delegates being required to develop ideas and strategies together to counter this kind of food safety crisis. Workshops and examples of best practice will be used to illustrate the steps involved in a scientific risk assessment, with both the European and the Latin American perspective being taken into account. Exercises such as gap analyses will be applied not only to close potential gaps in current regional food safety structures, but also to identify processes and instruments that are already delivering good results.

The third day of the symposium includes a presentation of workshop results followed by a panel discussion featuring government representatives, risk management experts and international experts in the field of risk assessment. The symposium will then close with a press conference.

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.


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