Reports on the transparent use of risk assessment in decision making

A working group of the network of Heads of National Food Agencies in Europe has published two reports on the transparent use of risk assessment in decision making.

Second report on transparency in decision making: frameworks for transparent use of evidence in risk management decisions

A working group of the network of Heads of National Food Agencies in Europe has published its second report on the transparent use of risk assessment in decision making.

After the publication of its first report (see below), which looked at transparent use of risk assessment in decision making, the Heads of Agencies tasked the working group to develop an action plan to support implementation of its recommendations, and in particular, to look at ways to support transparency in the risk management process comparable to that in the risk assessment process.

The working group’s second report considers the principles and key features necessary for approaches to risk management to ensure transparency of the resulting decisions and their rationale and justification. The group concluded that it is not appropriate to recommend a single framework for use across the Head of Agencies network, since approaches will need to be flexible and to be adapted to the specific contexts of the country and the issue being considered. Instead, the working group proposes a set of common objectives and features that any approach should seek to meet, and some conclusions on the factors to be considered in decisions and the scope of application of these approaches.

The working group proposed that national food agencies should now pilot the use of frameworks, to see which work best in meeting the overall principles in their countries and in different circumstances. They will need to work with others, and particularly with risk managers, at national and European level, to develop this work to the next stage.

These proposals were endorsed by the Heads of Agencies group at its plenary meeting in Venice in 2014.

For the second phase of its work the working group comprised representatives from five national food agencies:

  • Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FAVV), Belgium
  • Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), Netherlands
  • Norwegian Food Safety Authority
  • National Food Agency, Sweden
  • Food Standards Agency

First report on transparency in decision making

The working group looked at how to ensure that the established principles for risk assessment and for risk policy are used consistently and transparently in risk management decisions that affect food safety in the EU. It concluded that a principal challenge is for risk management to develop and promote transparency and rigour in the decision-making process comparable to that in the risk assessment process, so that the basis for risk management and the information and analysis used in this is clear, rational and justifiable. The report makes a number of recommendations for how these objectives can be achieved.

The Heads of Food Agencies endorsed the report and its recommendations at their meeting in Cyprus on 4 December 2012.

The working group comprised representatives from six national food agencies:

  • Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FAVV), Belgium
  • Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Germany
  • Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), Netherlands
  • Norwegian Food Safety Authority
  • National Food Agency, Sweden
  • Food Standards Agency (FSA)