European authority to review A1/A2 milk science

Tuesday 19 February 2008, 4:29PM
By Lianne Dalziel

Food Safety Minister Lianne Dalziel today announced that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is to carry out a comprehensive review of existing scientific research on the safety of A1 milk.

"I am delighted that one of the world’s top food safety organisations will undertake this work. EFSA is a highly resourced, competent and respected authority with a wealth of expertise in the areas of risk assessment and food safety. Its review will be conducted independently and the outcome will resolve the current debate around the science of A1 and A2 milks," Lianne Dalziel said.

In October the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) announced its intention to conduct two separate reviews, one into the science behind the A1/A2 milk debate and the other into NZFSA's risk management and decision-making processes. EFSA's decision to review the science means it is no longer necessary for NZFSA to commission its own review, Lianne Dalziel said.

EFSA is an independent European agency funded by the EU budget that operates separately from the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Member States. EFSA is the keystone of European Union risk assessment regarding food safety. Working in close collaboration with national authorities and in open consultation with its stakeholders, EFSA provides independent scientific advice and clear communication on existing and emerging risks.

"We do not know how long the review will take, but EFSA has indicated that it will be given some priority."

EFSA will develop terms of reference and appoint a suitably qualified person to chair the review. Relevant peer reviewed scientific studies may be submitted to the review through EFSA. The Cabinet paper on EFSA's review of the science is available on the NZFSA website here.

The review of NZFSA's processes is already underway, with Dr Stuart Slorach looking at the New Zealand Food Safety Authority risk management decision-making processes in general. He has spent time in New Zealand and is now back in Europe visiting the government food safety agencies of Ireland, Denmark and Sweden with the aim of comparing the approach in New Zealand with that of these leading agencies. Dr Slorach is expected to have his report finalised in the second quarter of this year.