Uniform standards ensure harmonised risk assessment in Europe
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has published a guidance document for health assessments in the field of consumer protection. It also includes information on the correct wording to communicate about health risks. The BfR guidance document serves as a basis for the assessment of possible health risks of foods, chemical substances and consumer products and is a leading document for BfR within the framework of its quality management system. "If scientific risk assessments are elaborated and drafted on a national, European and international level in accordance with professional principles, they can be used more efficiently by risk managers. In this way risk assessments can be internationally harmonised in the medium term and duplication of work can be avoided in many institutions in Europe and throughout the world," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel.
Health risks from foods, chemicals and consumer products are assessed on a federal and Laender level, on a European level and in international organisations. The assessments are available, more particularly, to competent institutions as independent, scientific expert reports and serve as a reliable scientific basis for decisions of legislators and public authorities.
The specifications for the scientific content and the appropriate structuring of health assessments as they result from science and legislation and have proven their worth based on many years of experience, are compiled in the new BfR guidance document. At the same time it constitutes a practical application of international principles of risk assessment, eg from the Codex Alimentarius, a body of rules with worldwide food standards of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), as well as the OECD programmes for international chemicals assessment. The guidance document has been compiled by the Institute with the participation of the approximately 200 members of its scientific committees.
Information on assessment criteria and an appropriate, uniform terminology, which should be used in health assessments, are covered by the brochure in the same way as explanations of typical terms of risk assessment such as the "Precautionary Principle" in consumer health protection and a selection of technical guidelines which serve as a basis for the orientation of international risk assessments.