Time for work exchange at Hylobates Consulting

Hylobates Consulting has just hosted Liesbeth Dewitt, one of the scientists from the University of Surrey, Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Department , UK working  in the framework of the EU network of excellence EURRECA which has as goal the alignment of the micronutrients recommendations across Europe.  Liesbeth has spent a whole week at Hylobates and I had the chance to work with her on the results of the qualitative interviews with experts in the vitamin D, folate and iodine policies carried out in 10 European countries, including Italy. Liesbeth and I have had very fruitful “scientific conversations”, we did some brainstorming on the highlights of the interviews  in the perspective of the article to be published in a scientific journal that will result from the qualitative research. Liesbeth is now doing the hard job of writing up the whole paper.

 

Antonella Guzzon-Research Team

Risk assessment, management and communication: highlights from the 20th Society for Risk Analysis Europe Meeting

The Annual  Meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis Europe took place this year, for its 20th edition, in Stuttgart (Germany) from 6th to 8th of June and I have had the chance to attend the conference, contributing with an oral presentation within one of the symposia organised. More specifically, I have given a presentation within the symposium “Food Risks and Benefits” which was focused on the results achieved so far by FoodRisc project (for more information visit www.foodrisc.org). FoodRisC is an FP7 funded project, currently running, focused on food risk and benefit communication and Hylobates Consulting is one of the partners of the projects consortium.

Many topics were covered during the oral sessions and symposia  running in parallel throughout the whole conference. The most interesting ones, bearing in mind the work we carry on at Hylobates, were risk assessment, risk management and risk communication in different fields, such as food, nanotechnologies, climate change, nuclear power as so on. In particular, risk communication was of interest for us considering our involvement in FoodRisC project as already mentioned.

In relation to the issue of perception of risk communication, Ellen Peters (Ohio State University, US) explained in her presentation, during the first plenary session of the conference, the concept of “numeracy” and its implications in risk perception. “Numeracy” refers to the ability of individuals in processing numeric information contained in a message. This skill influences decisions people take about various kinds of risks, such as environmental, health or financial ones, when exposed to information on related issues.

Moving on to risk assessment and risk management, two presentations were dedicated to this complex topics followed by a lively debate between the speakers. The first presentation was from Terje Aven (University of Stavanger, Norway) who focused on the misconceptions of risk which are present in the methods used in risk assessment and risk management. The speaker provided some examples as well as some ideas for improvement. Subsequently, Charles Vlek (University of Groningen, Netherlands) gave a talk on uncertainty in risk evaluation and on the rational balancing the precaution and venture principles, using different examples to explain the theory behind these principles, from the Trojan horse to E.coli crisis in Germany.

Finally, I would like to mention the presentation of Atsuo Kishimoto (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan) who provided a thorough explanation of the risk governance in a multiple risk situation such as the one that occurred in Japan on last March, with the earthquake, the tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident all at the same time. The speaker talked about the consequences of the unexpected height of the tsunami and complete loss of electricity in the nuclear power plant at Fukushima in relation to what were considered to be the deficits of the managing system emergency.

 

Antonella Guzzon – Research Team

 

Professor Witkamp PlantLIBRA’s Scientific Advisory Board’s vice-chair interviewed on foods and pharma convergence

Professor Witkamp

During a conference in Lille, Renger Witkamp, Professor of Nutrition and Pharmacology at Wageningen  University in the Netherlands, and PlantLIBRA’s Scientific Advisory Board vice-chair, has lately given an interesting interview on the hot topic of the convergence of food and pharmaceuticals. The Scientific Advisory Board provides advice on the progress of the PlantLIBRA EC project and helps ensure that the PlantLIBRA’s output is of the highest scientific quality. Hylobates provides the secretariat to the Board. The interview can be found on the daily online news on the website NutraIngredients.com.

The PlantLIBRA Project Management Team

Hylobates raccoglie il parere degli esperti in materia di politiche sui micronutrienti per EURRECA, una rete europea di eccellenza

Hylobates Consulting è partner di EURRECA, una rete di eccellenza finanziata dalla Commissione Europea che ha l’obiettivo di elaborare delle linee guida armonizzate per le raccomandazioni nutrizionali su vitamine e minerali. EURRECA sta sviluppando e applicando degli strumenti che aiuteranno l’EFSA, così come qualsiasi altra organizzazione incaricata dell’elaborazione e della revisione delle raccomandazioni nutrizionali su vitamine e minerali (in Italia è la SINU). Il consorzio è composto da scienziati, rappresentanti degli organismi che definiscono le raccomandazioni nutrizionali, le organizzazioni dei consumatori, le piccole e medie imprese e gli stakeholder più importatni di tutta Europa.

Le raccomandazioni nutrizionali ad oggi pubblicate mostrano una notevole diversità fra i paesi europei, nonostante le esigenze fisiologiche delle varie popolazioni siano molto simili. I motivi di questa variazione possono essere riscontare nelle differenze nei concetti e nella terminologia usata per esprimere queste raccomandazioni, negli indicatori dello stato nutrizionale e/o negli indicatori di salute utilizzati da parte di esperti per determinare un adeguato apporto, nei tipi di studi e riferimenti bibliografici utilizzati, ecc. Tuttavia, queste differenze a livello nazionale potrebbe generare confusione fra i decisori politici, operatori sanitari, industria alimentare e consumatori.

Questo è il motivo per cui si rende necessaria l’armonizzazione delle raccomandazioni nutrizionali. EURRECA ha condotto una ricerca su diversi gruppi di popolazioni per identificare i nutrienti per i quali vi è un urgente bisogno di revisione della dose raccomandata. Dieci micronutrienti sono stati identificati, vale a dire vitamina D, il ferro, folati, vitamina B12, zinco, calcio, vitamina C, selenio, iodio e rame.

Tre sono gli obiettivi chiave di EURRECA:

1. Produrre un insieme di standard fornendo una solida base scientifica per stabilire il fabbisogno di micronutrienti e per elaborare le raccomandazioni nutrizionali.

2. Focalizzarsi sulle esigenze di specifici gruppi vulnerabili: neonati, bambini e adolescenti, adulti, donne in gravidanza e in allattamento, anziani, persone con basso reddito e immigrati.

3. Valutare l’impatto dello status socio-economico, l’origine etnica, la variabilità inter-individuale e di vulnerabilità a causa di fattori genetici, fattori ambientali e dei fenomeni epigenetici.

Come membro del consorzio, Hylobates Consulting ha recentemente condotto in Italia una serie di interviste con esperti sulle politiche relative ai folati, allo iodio e alla vitamina D. L’obiettivo delle interviste è stato quello di investigare il processo decisionale relativo alle politiche di questi micronutrienti attraverso la valutazione delle assunzioni fatte nel processo di elaborazione delle politiche, delle evidenze scientifiche e della considerazione dei soggetti interessati e dei consumatori nel processo decisionale (un po’di background qui, purtroppo a pagamento). I risultati delle interviste condotte in Italia, insieme alle interviste degli altri paesi coinvolti, contribuiranno nell’insieme allo sviluppo di uno strumento che aiuti i decisori nello sviluppo di politiche sulla base di raccomandazioni armonizzate per i micronutrienti.

Antonella

Hylobates Science

Questo posto è una traduzione. Il post originale si trova qui.

35 in-depth interviews conducted in Italy for the FoodRisC EC project

 

Photo of Patrick Wall, coordinator of FoodRisC

Patrick Wall, coordinator of FoodRisC

Hylobates Consulting is one of  fourteen partners of the EU 7th Framework project FoodRisC (Food Risk Communication – perceptions and communication of food risk/benefits across Europe), a three years project aimed at mapping out the  networks and information sources contributing to food risk and benefit communication across Europe. The project consortium is made up by research institutes, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), consumers organisations which altogether represent nine EU Member States.

Progress of work has been discussed during the 2nd meeting of the project which took place in London on March 3rd-4th 2011.

Hylobates has completed 35 interviews with consumers, experts and stakeholders  conducted in Italy. Similar interviews were carried out by other five partners of the project (Belgium, Ireland,  Latvia, Spain, The Netherlands). The results of the interviews from all countries involved will contribute to the assessment of food risk and benefit communication among consumers, experts and stakeholders representing different step of the food chain. In particular, the interviews will be analysed to identify the issues which are of most interest for consumers in relation to communication of food risk and benefit.

More generally the fields of investigation of the project include:

  • the characterization of food risk and benefit issues and the related communication implications
  • the potential role of new social media in communicating food risk/benefit
  • the way in which consumers respond to information they perceive as uncertain, contested or confusing and to develop relevant segmentation criteria
  • the applicability of the concept of information seeking to the design of food risk/benefit communications
  • developing practical ways in which consumer sense-making and deliberation can be taken into account in order to provide substantive benefits to stakeholders in developing communications.

The results of the research will be used to provide policy makers, food authorities and other stakeholders with a toolkit aimed at facilitating the effective and coherent communication on food and thus promoting consumer understanding through clear messages.

Hylobates Science

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