The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has just launched a project whereby SMEs in the areas of feed additives and novel foods can request an administrative check of their draft dossiers prior to submission.
EFSA will provide such support via teleconferences.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are defined in EU recommendation 2003/361. EFSA told us that for the purpose of the new support initiative, an SME is required to use the SME self-assessment questionnaire to determine whether the organisation qualifies as a firm of that scale.
It said the aim of the pilot, which will end in December 2017, is to improve the quality of SME applications.
A spokesperson for EFSA commented: "The quality of all applications in all areas can be improved. In order to foster engagement and dialogue with stakeholders, EFSA continuously assesses the needs of and develops new services for applicants. The new support initiative aims to allow a swifter move to the risk assessment phase, decreasing the timeline from reception to validity/suitability of an application."
The Parma-based EU food and feed risk assessor said the administrative check should ensure that draft dossiers from feed additive SMEs comply with the requirements specified in the regulatory framework before they submit them.
"SMEs represent a good percentage of EFSA’s applicants."
The support applies only to the administrative aspects of an application. Scientific questions, advice and assessments are outside the scope of the trial.
EFSA said it selected feed additives and novel foods as the sectors for the pilot initiative, as it anticipates a large number of applications in these areas.
The EU agency said it would evaluate the pilot afterwards, assessing results and benefits against invested efforts for both SMEs and EFSA.