Hans Verhagen


Prof. Verhagen is Head of EFSA’s Risk Assessment and Scientific Assistance Department, which performs risk assessments on general health and safety issues in biological hazards, chemical contaminants, plant health, animal health and welfare, and provides support on data collection, emerging risks, exposure assessment and risk assessment methodologies.

Before EFSA he worked at the RIVM and TNO, in Unilever Research and at the Universities of Maastricht and Nijmegen (Netherlands).

He was member of EFSA’s NDA Panel from 2006 to 2015.

He is a board-certified toxicologist and nutritionist and a visiting professor at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland from 2009.


Abstract 1

European Food Safety Authority: “Trusted science for safe food”

Hans Verhagen, Head of Department – Risk Assessment & Scientific Assistance

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA; http://www.efsa.europa.eu/) was established in 2002 and introduced a separation of risk assessment and risk management. EFSA provides scientific advice to EU policy-makers through 10 Scientific Panels and an overarching Scientific Committee. EFSA has ca. 500 staff which support > 1500 scientific experts. EFSA publishes ca. 500 scientific opinions per year.

The EFSA 2020 Strategy “Trusted science for safe food” sets out EFSA’s strategic objectives and way forward for meeting the challenges and opportunities ahead to protect European consumers against risks related to the food chain https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/corporate/pub/strategy2020). EFSA’s driving values are: scientific excellence, independence, openness, innovation and cooperation. EFSA seeks to invest in key assets and capabilities, such as data, expertise & capacity building and risk assessment methodologies.

The Strategy has five strategic objectives:

For EFSA, trust in its work is vital. The value of the scientific advice is linked directly to the level of trust people have. Trust is something that has to be earned. Building trust at EFSA is by ensuring that the science is of the highest scientific standard and is transparent about the processes used for risk assessment. This is challenging, especially when dealing with 500 million citizens, sharing different cultures and with a perception of food-related risks that may vary from country to country. Communication plays a key role.

As concerns dairy, there are many issues that are in the remit of EFSA and on which EFSA has recently provided scientific advice. These are in the areas of chemical and biological hazards (tetrahydrocannabinol in milk, multi-country outbreak of STEC, raw milk drinking), animal health and welfare (dairy cows on small scale farms, animal diseases such as lumpy skin disease, food and mouth disease), animal feed (copper), health claims and novel foods (UV-treated milk, milk products fermented with Bacteroides xylanisolvens, bovine lactoferrin), etc.


Abstract 2

Safety of UV-treated milk and other dairy novel foods

Hans Verhagen, Head of Department – Risk Assessment & Scientific Assistance

Cornerstone of EU Food Law is the general principle that food and food ingredients shall not be placed on the market if it is unsafe (Regulation (EC) 178/2002). In 1997, Regulation (EC) 258/97 concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients (NF/NFI) was introduced, which covers NF/NFI that have not been used for human consumption to a significant degree within the European Union before 15 May 1997. NF/NFI falling within the scope of this Regulation must not: present a danger for the consumer, mislead the consumer, and differ from foods or food ingredients which they are intended to replace to such an extent that their normal consumption would be nutritionally disadvantageous for the consumer. Alongside Regulation (EC) 258/97, guidelines for novel food applications have been published in Commission Recommendation 97/618 and by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF/CS/ADD/NUT/21).

As concerns novel foods in the area of dairy, EFSA recently evaluated several novel food dossiers:

In all instances, the data provided were of sufficient quality to perform a risk assessment and EFSA could conclude that the novel food ingredients mentioned above are safe under the proposed uses and use levels.

Further information:



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