EFSA drives initiatives on stakeholder engagement and insights on Brexit – Dr Elinor McCartney’s interview with Fi Europe

Posted 20 September, 2017

Navigating the choppy waters of F&B regulations can be challenging, especially with pending changes in EU regulations and Brexit looming large. Regulatory expert Dr Elinor McCartney will be at the Fi Europe Conference to share her expertise and answer your questions. In the meantime, we asked Elinor some questions about the main EFSA developments awaiting us in 2018 and beyond.

Elinor, during your presentation you will be highlighting how EFSA is now looking to introduce an initiative to increase stakeholder engagement – do you think this is likely to improve the relationship between the F&B industry and the regulatory body?

‘EFSA evaluates, advises and communicates. The EU Commission and Member States are responsible for regulating, though they are influenced by and seek scientific opinions from EFSA. We believe that the EFSA stakeholder engagement will improve relationships between industry and EFSA, especially if EFSA adopts similar stakeholder engagement strategies as those adopted by the EMA (European Medicine Agency), which has an excellent reputation in this respect.’

Why are they looking to introduce this initiative now?

‘Natural evolution-we believe that the timing is a natural outcome of the development of EFSA since its establishment in 2002, subsequent growth, changes in organizational structure and staff, as well as an awareness of higher demands for voices to be heard in modern democratic societies, now empowered by ICT technologies.’

What are the immediate benefits of increased engagement for the F&B industry?

‘Better EFSA opinions, leading to better regulation for all stakeholders, including the F&B industry, and application of the “3 R’s”: to “Reduce, Replace and Refine” in vivo animal studies, for example by using validated in vitro or ex vivo models.’

 A more general question now, how is Brexit likely to impact current regulations within the F&B industry?

‘In the short term, not at all.’

Will it become harder for British companies to introduce new products into Europe, and vice versa?

‘The UK is almost certain to continue to apply EU legislation for 2 reasons:

1. To access the EU market post-Brexit;

2. Food chain legislation will be far down the list of priorities post-Brexit, and is unlikely to diverge from EU legislation for many years. Ditto for EU businesses, which will be held to EU legislation within the EU and within the UK.’

From a regulatory perspective, what are your predictions for the next 3-5 years?

‘No major changes in the Nutritional and Health Claims Regulation – it will not disappear. A more flexible and pragmatic approach from EFSA, while still maintaining good scientific standards on the safety, quality and efficacy of food chain products. Easier access of novel foods from 3rd countries, provided that such foods have a well-established consumption in a significant part of the 3rd country population, and that this is well – demonstrated in the notifications submitted.’

Be sure to catch Pen & Tec Consulting at the Fi Europe 2017 Conference during the Master Class: Food Safety & Regulatory Compliance on Tuesday, 28th November 2017. 

Dr Elinor McCartney will discuss ‘EFSA Initiatives for Improved Stakeholder Engagement – Good News for FBOs’.