The European food safety watchdog announced yesterday that the memorandum with the Food Safety Commission (FSC) of Japan would formalise their commitment to scientific co-operation and information sharing relating to current and emerging risks.
“As crops, animals and food products are transported around the globe, so can the risks associated with the food chain,” said and EFSA statement. “Ensuring access to a larger pool of international data is one of the priorities of EFSA’s international strategy.”
Food contact materials, animal cloning and nanotechnology were some of the issues FSC deputy chair Dr Takeshi Mikami discussed with EFSA scientists following the inking of the accord.
Sharing technical data and expertise
The memorandum, signed by EFSA executive director Catherine Geslain-Laneelle in Parma, said the bodies will “provide mutual support and co-operation” on the collection, analysis and sharing of technical data, as well as sharing expertise and views on methodologies for collecting information.
However, the agreement does not imply any legal obligations and neither body will have to supply information deemed to be confidential. Within the EU, this would include information that could damage the public and commercial interests of individuals, companies or countries.
The agreement between the EFSA and the FSC will initially run for five years, with a clause to continue until 2019 unless one of the parties decides to terminate the accord. The memorandum also has a mutual ‘get out’ clause allowing one party to walk away if it believes there are “special reasons by which the co-operation cannot be continued”.
The memorandum signed with Japan is the agency’s second international agreement with a national food safety body outside the European Union. In 2007, EFSA and the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) signed a similar co-operation pact.
EFSA said working with global bodies such as Codex Alimentarius, as well as food safety agencies across the world is an important part of its food safety strategy.