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Food Safety Minister Lianne Dalziel is very satisfied with the progress the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is making with a preliminary review of A1/A2 milk.
Lianne Dalziel met with the EFSA executive director and other top level officials in Parma, Italy on Monday.
"I was very impressed with the approach EFSA takes to food safety generally, which is purely risk assessment, not risk management. This means that the advice they provide is based strictly on scientific evidence. With respect to the A1/A2 milk issue, EFSA is treating the literature and data review very seriously and applying all the core values, which have earned them their reputation for independence, transparency and excellence," Lianne Dalziel said.
EFSA is a statutory body that was established in 2002 to be independent of the European Commission.
"EFSA’s processes are extremely rigorous and with their access to experts in a wide range of fields, I believe we will get a high quality result."
Lianne Dalziel said that EFSA had all the relevant New Zealand references, including the Boyd Swinburn report commissioned by the NZFSA and the Keith Woodford book that reignited the debate in New Zealand last year.
"This ensures that the analysis of the worldwide literature and data that EFSA is undertaking will be relevant to New Zealand. In my view, New Zealand is very fortunate that EFSA decided to adopt this review in its own right."
Lianne Dalziel said that the timeframe for the preliminary review, while originally anticipated to be about six months, could in fact last until the end of the year.
"Given this represents a desire by EFSA to apply rigorous standards to the review and to consider all relevant research, including some current but as yet unpublished research, I believe that the extra time is warranted."
The approach EFSA has adopted is to create an internal working group and recruit external experts; conduct a bibliographic search (already commenced) and make contact with interested parties to access relevant data; arrange expert reviews of protein chemistry and experimental data and a statistical review of epidemiological studies; and hold discussions within the working group leading to conclusions which will inform EFSA as to whether there are sufficient indications to support a full risk assessment of the consumption of milk high in beta-casein A1.