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Bridging the Gap Between Food Safety Research and Policy

International experts provided valuable insights on how to bridge food safety information gaps and improve communication between decision makers and consumers at a workshop in Brussels, Belgium, on 21 January 2016.

The workshop, entitled “Science supporting policy for the safety of European seafood”, was held as part of the EU FP7-funded project ECsafeSEAFOOD, which aims to assess safety issues mainly related to non-regulated contaminants present in seafood as a result of environmental contamination and evaluate their impact on public health. Results from the project will inform policy makers about the need for and requirements of seafood regulatory and monitoring programmes for these contaminants of emerging concern. The consultation workshop gave insight into steps that ECsafeSEAFOOD can take to ensure its results contribute to the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), specifically in relation to addressing the issues of contaminants in fish and seafood for human consumption and marine litter. ECsafeSEAFOOD coordinator Dr António Marques said: “The workshop was extremely productive, as the audience was deeply involved in the development of policy for food safety and very interested in the project results. Meeting the different policy makers in person will certainly foster closer bonds between policy makers and project researchers, which are critical to ensure the successful accomplishment of the project objectives and to ensure that consumers have a higher confidence in seafood consumption.” Policy makers advised on how relevant projects and initiatives could collaborate and link up to provide coherent information on seafood safety issues. They also made suggestions on how to optimise ECsafeSEAFOOD outreach tools and communication strategies to ensure uptake and exploitation of the valuable seafood safety information coming from the project. One such resource is an interactive online tool which consumers will be able to use to assess the benefits and risks associated with their seafood consumption. Assessment of the ECsafeSEAFOOD online tool’s functionality was also a key focus of the seventh ECsafeSEAFOOD general assembly which took place in Porto, Portugal, from 3-4 February 2016. The meeting was attended by members of the ECsafeSEAFOOD consortium, comprising 17 partner organisations from nine countries, and by experts from the international advisory committees. The advisory committee experts reviewed the project’s progress and provided advice on how to improve the project and overcome any issues. Dr Marques said: “The meeting involved constructive discussions to optimise resources available in the final year of the project. Participation by members of the external industrial and scientific advisory committees was extremely positive and strongly enriched the discussion with the integration of external visions.” Plans are underway for the organisation of a final project conference which will bring policy makers, seafood industry representatives and consumer organisations together to discuss strategies to optimise seafood safety. Details of the event will be released at in the coming months. The next consortium meeting will be held in Dublin, Ireland, in June 2016. Notes for Editors The Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA, I.P.) is coordinating the project. The ECsafeSEAFOOD project was launched in February 2013 and is funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological development (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement n°311820. ECsafeSEAFOOD Online Tool The project partners are developing content for an online tool for stakeholders that will balance the benefits and risks associated with seafood consumption, taking exposure to contaminants into consideration. The project will also produce seafood safety guidelines to help consumers to reduce or eliminate the risk of contaminated seafood. For more information about the ECsafeSEAFOOD online tool, contact Dr Lolita Vilavert (


Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Finland, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, United Kingdom