Global supply chains do not stop at national borders. For example, eggs contaminated with the insecticide fipronil reached Europe and Asia in 2017. EHEC pathogens in food led to disease and death in several EU countries in 2011. "The free movement of goods in Europe and increasing imports from third countries have created new challenges for food safety," says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). "The crisis exercise is intended to promote networking and further improve international cooperation in the event of a crisis. On behalf of and in cooperation with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the BfR, supported by the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), is organising an international crisis exercise at the BfR from 28 to 30 August 2019.
Experts from the scientific and communication fields of risk assessment and risk management will discuss how the existing networks in the EU can be further expanded at the BfR from 28 to 30 August 2019. Participating countries are Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, supported by EFSA. Germany, for example, is represented by the BfR, the BVL and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). In the crisis exercise using the example of a chemical contaminant in the food chain, elements of crisis management are tested in a practical way for emergencies and, in particular, cross-border cooperation is more closely interlinked and thus improved.
The event is part of a package of measures that EFSA has summarised under the title "Risk Assessment Instruments for Global Food and Feed Chain Security". The crisis exercise serves to strengthen transnational networks for early risk detection, crisis prevention and communication in times of crisis.
The first day of the event will focus on the scientific exchange of tools to support risk assessment and risk management in the event of a crisis or incident. Furthermore, representatives of the participating countries will provide insights into regional procedures and structures for crisis management.
The crisis exercise is the focus of the second day. Using a realistic scenario developed beforehand, the participants will rehearse how to cope with a cross-border food crisis in an exemplary manner. Existing procedures and procedures in the various countries are examined jointly. Interdisciplinary teams develop suitable measures for solving the crisis and coordinate these in close cooperation with the international partners. The areas of risk assessment and crisis management as well as risk and crisis communication are considered for this purpose. Particularly challenging is the formulation of key messages and strategies for communicating uncertainties, all this under the increased attention of the public, classical and social media simulated here in the exercise.
On the third day of the event, the experiences and results gained as well as future possibilities for implementation will be discussed. In in-depth workshops they rehearse the use of different tools and the adequate handling of media in crisis situations.