EFSA promotes alternatives to animal testing

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Tuesday, June 09, 2009

EFSA’s Scientific Committee has underlined the importance of risk assessment approaches in the area of food and feed safety which not only minimise the use of experimental animals and their suffering but also lead towards the replacement of animal testing. The published opinion reviews the state-of-the-art concerning the use of experimental animals in different areas of EFSA’s risk assessment activities, and outlines strategies which can reduce the number of animal studies needed.

The opinion stresses that animal testing should be conducted in line with guidelines endorsed by the European Commission, EU agencies or other international bodies such as the OECD. It also recommends a dialogue between EFSA and the European Commission on the best ways to address the inclusion of new, validated testing methods in existing guidelines based on the replacement, reduction and refinement of animal testing

Most of the risk assessments conducted by EFSA require experimental data. It is currently not possible to obtain all the necessary data and information required to ensure a high level of consumer protection without some use of animal experiments.

This opinion lists the type of internationally-recognised alternative methods to animal testing which are available for different types of studies used in risk assessment – e.g. acute toxicity, skin irritation and eye irritation testing – and says that these should be used in line with existing Community legislation[1] . For areas where alternative methods cannot provide all of the necessary information, such as reproductive and developmental toxicity, the opinion describes integrated testing and risk assessment strategies which can help to reduce the need for animal experiments.

The Scientific Committee recommended that EFSA should follow up on this opinion with a review of progress in the field of alternatives to animal testing in three years’ time.