emerging food risk initiatives

Workpackage 2: Emerging risk initiatives: Foresight and collation of expert opinion

Analysis of emerging risk initiatives conducted globally: Foresight and collation of expert opinions.


  • To analyse current food safety systems regarding emerging risks identification and to identify both opportunities and shortcomings in research activities and knowledge.
  • To establish a database of experts to be included in the Delphi, in collaboration with WP4. WP3 will also use this database to get access t information and data relevant to the objectives of their Workpackage.
  • To take due account of the opinions of geographically and culturally diverse stakeholders regarding emerging food safety risks, and integrate these into a global system of emerging risk identification.
  • To obtain a reliable consensus of opinion from a global expert group regarding emerging food safety risks, with regard to integrating existing knowledge and resources, identifying gaps in knowledge to provide input for the development of a common research agenda.
  • To identify where duplication in effort is being applied, and to harmonise and streamline ongoing initiatives, as well as those under development.
  • To provide information for evaluation by members of WP3.

Description of work

In order to optimize consumer protection, world trade andinternational communication with respect to food and feed, it is essential that international consensus regarding risk identification, risk assessment and risk management activities are developed with respect to emerging food safety risks. International agreement about gaps in existing knowledge, as well as risk identification and management priorities, will not only facilitate the harmonization of ongoing research activities and optimize the allocation of resources, but will also contribute to the development of a common research portfolio. Optimization of rapid alert systems at a global level will facilitate international communication about emerging food safety problems.

Global consensus can only be achieved if expertise worldwide is incorporated into foresight and analysis activities. Identification of emerging food safety risks through horizon scanning has proved very difficult, primarily because of problems in identifying global expertise, and developing consensus about emerging risk issues under circumstances where opinion is subject to influence by cultural differences. An established and tested methodology, the Delphi technique, will be applied to identification of problems and gaps in knowledge. An important result will be the generation of outputs in the form of documents which will be incorporated into Workpackage 3 activities.

Delphi is an iterative technique used for the systematic measuring and aiding of forecasting activities and decision making, and has been applied in a variety of disciplines. Delphi provides a structure to facilitate group communication on a specific task, and is recognised as being an effective procedure when reliable consensus of opinion needs to be obtained from diverse groups. Delphi involves sequential collection of questionnaire data interspersed with controlled opinion feedback.

A semi-structured questionnaire will be developed by partner 2, in collaboration with the core group members and the subcontractor. The questionnaire will focus on identification of information regarding gaps in existing knowledge regarding the assessment of emerging food safety risks, mitigation prioritisation, and what needs to be done in terms of developing a global research portfolio. It will also be used to scope existing and developingrisk assessment activities and communication networks. Initially, potential experts will be identified through the GO-GLOBAL network. It is anticipated that a total of 200 experts be recruited from all geographical areas involved in GO-GLOBAL who will be asked to respond (using electronic opinion sampling techniques) to the questions raised in the first round questionnaire. The initial round of responses will provide quantitative information about research priorities and gaps in existing knowledge in the area of emerging food risks, as well as provide the basis for mapping of existing initiatives in diverse parts of the globe.

The results will be used to develop a quantitative questionnaire, which will focus on prioritisation of existing and innovative activities identified in round 1. Analysis of the quantitative results will be conducted, and a second quantitative questionnaire developed. A statistical summary (mean group response) will be included in the second round, in order to provide feedback to participants regarding anonymised group responses to individual items. The second round of the Delphi will be conducted using the same respondents. The results will be analysed to identify whether consensus views (either majority or minority) have emerged, as well as whether potential geographical or cultural differences in research prioritisation have been harmonised, or indeed have emerged. A report will be produced which will form the basis of discussions at the final international research agenda workshop (Workpackage 2 and 3 joint activity), to which all members of WP3 will be invited.