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Table 2 Communication tools to facilitate cross-border communication during international food safety events

From: The utilisation of tools to facilitate cross-border communication during international food safety events, 1995–2020: a realist synthesis

Tool/System Year Established Who is using the tool? Coordinating Authority What is the purpose? Key reference
European Union Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) 1979 EU Member State national food safety authorities, Commission, EFSA, ESA, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland European Commission Provide food and feed control authorities with an effective tool to exchange information about measures taken responding to serious risks detected in relation to food or feed [31]
The International Molecular subtyping network for Foodborne Disease Surveillance (PulseNet International)
Note: PulseNet International is a network of PulseNet national and regional networks
1996 National, regional and sub-regional laboratory networks of Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the US in 86 countries US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) Implement standardised genotyping methods and share information in real-time within regional and national laboratory networks to support surveillance and outbreak response enabling the direct comparison of inter-laboratory data irrespective of geography [32]
Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) 1998 Public health authorities from 30 countries including 27 EU Member States and three countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. European Commission A rapid alert system to communicate serious cross border threats to health according to the Decision 1082/2013/EC between EU/EEA Member States, the European Commission, other EU agencies and WHO; EWRS is the primary risk management tool for international or unexpected events in the EU/EEA [33]
FAO/WHO International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) 2004 National authorities from 190 FAO/WHO Member States FAO/WHO Halt the international spread of contaminated food, prevent foodborne disease outbreaks, and strengthen food safety systems globally to reduce the burden of foodborne diseases [15]
Association of Southeast Asian Nations Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (ASEAN RASFF) 2007 National regulatory authorities from 10 countries in south-east Asia including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS), Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand Promptly exchange information among competent authorities when food or feed safety events occur [34]
International Health Regulations Network of National IHR Focal Points (IHR) 2007 National Health authorities from 194 WHO Member States World Health Organization (WHO) Prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade (considers all hazards, not only foodborne hazards) [35]
Epidemic Intelligence Information System for food- and waterborne diseases and zoonoses (EPIS-FWD) 2010 Public health authorities from 51 countries including 27 EU Member States, three countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein plus 21 other non-EU countries European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Detect multi-country food- and waterborne disease outbreaks and assessment of the public health risk.
Note: The European surveillance network for Salmonella infections (Salm-Net) was established in 1994 in the UK and was later expanded to include other intestinal pathogens and renamed Enter-Net [36]; Enter-Net was transferred to ECDC in 2007 from the Health Protection Agency in the UK (now called Public Health England), and the scope of the network was broadened; it was renamed food- and waterborne diseases and zoonoses network (FWD-Net). The FWD-Net members exchange information on unusual increases of food- or waterborne diseases via the EPIS-FWD online platform, which is an informal system based on voluntary use. When the hypothesis for a specific food is strong, access to the EPIS-FWD will be granted to EFSA, the European Commission food safety unit (including RASFF) and the European Union Reference Laboratories. In some countries, veterinary users have been trained and can be granted access to selected events. The system is linked to the PulseNet International through US CDC and the Public Health Agency of Canada. In case of involvement of third countries, access is granted to WHO.
Gulf Cooperation Council Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (GCC-RASFF) 2015 National Authorities from six GCC countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman Secretariat General of the GCC; members of the GCC-RASFF use an electronic platform operated by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (SFDA) Provide means for rapid exchange of information between GCC states on food alerts and food scares, flagging implicated food products to allow prompt regulatory actions.
Note: the GCC-RASFF technical regulation has been submitted to the Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation (SAFE) for consideration by 17 Arab countries for adaptation to an ‘Arab RASFF’ to be coordinated by the League of Arab States (LAS).