The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) carries out independent risk assessments for the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) across the Authority’s field of responsibility as well as environmental risk assessments of genetically modified organisms, alien organisms, micro-organisms and CITES for the Norwegian Environment Agency (Miljødirektoratet).
The risk assessments are used when giving advice to the relevant ministries, when choosing measures to take and as a part of the background for developing new laws and regulations.
By carrying out independent risk assessments of all issues related to food safety, VKM is an important contributor in the work of ensuring that Norwegian consumers have safe food.
Independent risk assessments
A risk assessment in VKM is a review, summary and assessment of the scientific documentation available. Scientific findings and date come from peer reviewed articles and published documents, including risk assessments from national and international institutions and from national and international surveillance and monitoring.
Risk assessments in VKM follow current international standards and methodology in the respective fields of responsibility for VKMs panels. All risk assessments are published electronically on our web pages as statements from the relevant panels or the Scientific Steering Committee.
VKMs has nine scientific panels whose areas of responsibility largely correspnd to those of the EFSA panels. The Scientific Steering Committee discusses guidelines and principles for the work in VKM, coordinates risk assessments discussed in more than one panel and finalizes the most comprehensive risk assessments.
Independent and transparant organisation
VKM was established in 2004. The committee is appointed by the Ministry of Health and Care Services. VKM is organized as an independent body, fulfilling the national requirement for independent, transparant and open scientific risk assessments.
The establishment of VKM was based on the principles for risk analysis as defined in Codex Alimentarius and in the European Union Food Law.
This means that the scientific assessment of health and environmental risks is separated form the risk handling, and that the whole process shall be carried out in an open and transparent way.
VKM only accepts requests for risk assessments from Mattilsynet and Norwegian Environment Agency. VKM can also undertake risk assessments on its ow initiative, thereby ensuring that topics considered important and relevant are scientifically assessed, even if they are not on the list of priorities by other public bodies.
VKM has its own secretariat and budget. Neither the Ministry of Health and Care Services, other ministries, Mattilsynet, the Norwegian Environment Agency or others may interfere int the scientific work of the committee.
EFSA Focal Point
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has initiated national Focal Points in the Member States to act as an interface between EFSA and the different national food safety authorities, research institutes, consumers and other EFSA related stakeholders.
The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety has been appointed as the Norwegian Focal Point for this scientific co-ordination work.