data_406x250The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has put data on chemical contaminants and food consumption, which it uses in its risk assessments, into a new online warehouse. This week, it opened the system to the public, making its resources available to all from the new EFSA data warehouse. “This is the latest important step towards improving accessibility to data collected by EFSA – one of the Authority’s main strategic challenges,” said Mary Gilsenan, head of EFSA’s Evidence Management Unit. EFSA is making available statistics for different countries on the reported frequency of contaminants in food and feed and on food consumption for different age groups (such as means and percentiles). The independent EFSA provides scientific advice and food risk assessments for the member states of the European Union. “User-friendly tools allow interactive visualization through tables, maps and graphs,” said Stefano Cappé, the EFSA data manager in charge of the project. In February, EFSA published the data warehouse’s access rules, which were agreed (upon) with the European Union’s member states. Over the course of 2015, data providers and EFSA scientific staff have been given access to EFSA’s data warehouse to pilot the system. In the coming years, EFSA will make much of the data it collects available, along with what it gathers from its networks of EU member states and other data providers. “Early next year, EFSA will roll out similar presentations for data collections of zoonotic microorganisms in food, feed and animals, antimicrobial resistance, pesticide residues in food, and chemical hazards in food and feed,” Cappé added. Here the Q&A from EFSA on the new data warehouse for the public: Who uses the EFSA website? The new website is more user-centric. Everyone has an interest in food, and information on food safety attracts a large, diverse audience. From extensive research, EFSA clustered users into three main groups: “technical” (scientists, risk managers, producers), “informed” (food safety decision-makers, stakeholders, science media) and “entry-level” (other media, general public). This helped to redesign the site map and to layer the content on the website in a way that helps different users reach the information they need more easily. Where can I find what I’m looking for?

  • A new “Science” section contains all the more technical content organized by the scientific areas in which EFSA works.
  • New sub-sections on “Methodology” and “Data” offer improved access to guidance documents and the EFSA Data Warehouse.
  • “Engage” is a one-stop shop for stakeholders to attend open meetings and provide scientific data, services and expertise to EFSA.
  • All corporate reports and publications are in a single “Documents” repository.
  • A visually attractive and easily navigable “News” page is available.
  • “Discover” contains materials, such as topics, fact sheets, videos and infographics, for entry-level users who want a taste of EFSA’s food safety work.

What additional innovations can we expect in the coming months? This launch is just the beginning for EFSA. Now EFSA has a sound basis for adapting to the ever-changing online landscape. Further refining of the new website and web-based communications will be done over the coming months and years. A next important step in 2016 is to make it easier to follow the entire scientific process – from the receipt of the request to development and publication – for each single scientific output. EFSA aims to give as much access as possible, from one point, to the data, expertise and tools that fed into the final outcome.

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