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Case Study: Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed Safety

A case study and introduction to RASFF - Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed Safety.
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In the European Union the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) represents the EU’s integrated approach to food safety.

The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASSF) was established in 1979 to provide EU control authorities with a tool to exchange information on the detection of food and feed risks. It covers all four types of food hazards: Chemical, Physical, Biological and Allergens.

How RASFF Works

When an EU member state detects a food safety risk – through the various detection measures which exist within its country – the member state notifies the European Commission using the RASFF system. The European Commission then disseminates the notification to other member states to enable them to take appropriate action. There are three different types of RASFF notifications which exist (Table 1).

Table 1: The types of RASFF notifications

Notification Description
Alert A food or feed presenting a risk is on the market and rapid action is required
Information A food or feed presenting a risk has been identified but other members in the network do not need to take rapid action because the product has not reached their market
Border Rejection Notification that a consignment of food, feed or food contact material has refused entry into a member state

This exchange of information allows EU Member States to act in a rapid and co-ordinated manner in response to feed and food safety issues. As a result, the risk of contaminants in foods is reduced.

RASFF Portal

The RASFF Portal is an interactive searchable online database open to the public. It provides summary information on any RASFF notifications issued in the past. This data can be used for a variety of beneficial activities including the identification of hazards, foods or countries causing the most problems; or to track the occurrence of a particular hazard over time. If you would like to explore the RASFF portal the link is added to the “See Also” section below.

Other similar food safety information databases may exist outside the European Union. If you are familiar of similar databases please share the link with your fellow learners in the comments section below.

What we would like you to do

Please share your thoughts on the RASFF tool. You may want to consider the following questions:

  • Do you think the RASFF tool is advantageous in helping to control food contaminants?

  • Do you know of any similar tools?

  • Do you think there would be value in a worldwide tool?

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