Scientific Steering Committee holds characteristically busy final meeting

April 17, 2003

Brussels, 16 April 2003

The Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) held its final meeting on 10 and 11 April 2003, six years after its creation. At that meeting, the SSC finalised opinions on 19 pending BSE-related issues and on the harmonisation of risk assessment approaches. From now on, the European Food Safety Authority will provide the scientific advice that the Commission relies on to manage food safety issues at the EU level.

Six years after its creation in 1997 and after having adopted almost 0 opinions, consulted more than 200 experts from 25 countries and provided the scientific basis for more than 30 legislative proposals, the European Commission's Scientific Steering Committee held its last plenary session on 10 and 11 April 2003. A short document summarising the history of the SSC and the context of its approach and work is available on:

At its last meeting the SSC finalised no less than 19 opinions on a number of still outstanding questions. In the field of BSE, it adopted an opinion on the BSE cases in the UK born after the reinforced feedban of 1 August 1996 (the BARBs case), saying that there is no reason to consider that these cases pose an increased risk for the consumer. Furthermore, opinions were adopted on seven alternative methods for the treatment of animal by-products, on the safety of tallow derivatives and on the link between organophosphates and BSE. On bovine tallow derivatives, the SSC significantly revised a previous opinion, considering for example that in GBR II countries it is not necessary to remove the specified risk materials from cattle fit for human consumption. Opinions were also adopted on the geographical BSE risk of 11 countries (Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Belarus, FYR Macedonia, Estonia, Lithuania and Cyprus).

The SSC also concluded its exercise on harmonising risk assessment methods. Part of the mandate of the Scientific Steering Committee consisted of co-ordinating the work of the eight scientific committees advising the European Commission. In this context, the SSC undertook a large exercise on the harmonisation of risk assessment procedures. The opinion adopted on this work is accompanied by several detailed reports on issues such as the quantitative risk assessment for food-borne pathogens, ecological risk assessments and quality of life concerns in the risk assessment process. Finally, the SSC adopted two overview reports summarising its BSE-related opinions and explaining the methodological approach it took to assess BSE risks. The reports will be available on Internet at the beginning of May 2003.

Now what?

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is in the process of taking over responsibility for the scientific committees from the European Commission. In future, EFSA will provide the sound scientific advice that the Commission relies on to manage food safety issues at the EU level.

DN: IP/03/551 Date: 16/04/2003

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