FDA and EFSA to join forces

The world's two largest food agencies have signed an agreement that will see them exchanging food safety information in an effort to prevent the kind of food supply scares that have erupted on both sides of the Atlantic in recent years.

The US Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority will share "non-public" scientific and other information as well as food safety methodologies.

The agreement formalises information sharing the two under-resourced agencies were already engaged in and will also seek to prevent research duplication. It is not known whether the agreement will assist EFSA clear its mounting health claims and nutrient dossier workload, of which it has been suggested a portion may be farmed out to national agencies if looming deadlines are to be met.

EFSA aimed to establish similar relationships with other regional and national agencies worldwide, it said.

"Food safety knows no national boundaries and the food chain is today truly a global one," said EFSA executive director Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle. "We need to work with the best scientific minds from across the world and extend scientific co-operation to assess food safety risks and protect consumers even more. Sharing data and knowledge across our two organisations is an important first step in achieving this goal."

"As a science-based and science-led agency, FDA recognises that scientific co-operation is vital for the success of its mission, which is to provide the best possible health protection for the public," said FDA commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach. "I welcome this opportunity for scientific exchanges with our European colleagues — exchanges that will be focused on ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of food, a major area of responsibility of our agency."

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