Food safety data to become open access – EFSA

food safety data
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The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has announced it will publish the food safety data it collects and uses in its monitoring programmes and surveys.

Mary Gilsenan, head of EFSA’s Evidence Management Unit, said: “Making this data freely available will mark a significant milestone for the Member States who provide so much of the data we use, and for EFSA itself. For the first time, when we publish certain scientific outputs we will simultaneously make available all the data used in the assessment. This will give us a food safety data publication process that is timely, comparable, interoperable and accessible. Open data is a key enabler for transparency, accountability and evidence-based decision-making. Moving from data-on-demand to a proactive data-by-default approach is a positive move for EFSA and all our stakeholders.”

The food safety data, which will be published in full on EFSA’s curated open repository Knowledge Junction, will include information pertaining to:

  • Food consumption habits;
  • Residues of pesticides, chemical contaminants and additives in food;
  • Outbreaks of disease borne in food; and
  • Antimicrobial resistance.

The first datasets will be made public this year on Knowledge Junction, which was established in 2016 to improve transparency and reproducibility of food safety data collected and used in EFSA’s risk assessments. The move comes as part of a wider effort across the EU to promote public access to information and data; and falls in line with one of EFSA’s key strategic objectives: to maximise public access to the data it holds and widen its available base of evidence.

Ms Gilsenan said: “We hope our report will help to stimulate the adoption of an open data policy in the food safety domain across Europe. Access to open food safety data can help consumers to make healthy choices, enhance food safety monitoring systems and drive innovation in the food production sector.”

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