Health and Food Safety 

The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) published a statement on emerging health and environmental issues.

The SCHEER statement on emerging health and environmental issues draws attention to 14 emerging issues in the non-food area that Committee members have identified as having a potential impact on human health and/or the environment in the future. Among the risks identified is the increase of pharmaceuticals and illicit drug loads in wastewater as a result of rise in the use of drugs, aging population and fly tipping of waste from illegal drug manufacturing sites. The presence of antibiotics in surface water may represent a change in the functioning of ecosystems and a risk to human health

 

Source: Health and Food Safety e-News – Newsroom Archive

Dangerous chemicals in clothing, textiles and footwear

The European Union is taking another important step in protecting EU consumers’ health against chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive health problems, limiting the use of these hazardous chemicals in clothing, textiles and footwear. Following a new restriction under the REACH Regulation, adopted on 10 October 2018, 33 chemicals that are Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or Toxic for reproduction (CMR) can no longer be used in everyday clothing, textiles and footwear above a certain concentration limit. The restriction will become applicable within 24 months.

The substances restricted may occur in these articles either as impurities or to give specific properties, such as to prevent shrinkage or make fabric crease-resistant. Consumers can be exposed to these hazardous substances through skin contact, inhalation or unintentional ingestion of dust released from the textile fibres. The most vulnerable to exposure from them these substances are pregnant women and small children.

Read more about this on the European Commission website: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/news_en.htm

Health crises: how to prepare and coordinate responses

The Health Threat 2009-2018 booklet on EU-funded actions for better preparedness and coordination in health crisis presents several actions funded under health programmes that have helped to improve health security in the EU. It was produced by the Chafea Health unit, in collaboration with health security experts and the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety.

 

The booklet was launched during the Conference on Best practices in implementing the International Health Regulations (IHR), which took place on 7-8 June 2018, in Athens, Greece.

To read more about the booklet go to: Chafea – News

Systems for tobacco traceability and security features 

Articles 15 and 16 of the Tobacco Products Directive provide for EU-wide systems of traceability and security features for tobacco products to address the issue of illicit trade.

The traceability system aims to:

  • Contribute to reducing the circulation of non-compliant tobacco products
  • Reduce artificially cheap supplies of illegal tobacco products
  • Protect public health, State budgets, and legal economic operators.

To read more about the traceability system go to: Systems for tobacco traceability and security features – European Commission

Falsified medicines

Falsified medicines are often disguised as authentic medicines but may contain ingredients of bad or toxic quality, or in the wrong dosage. As they have not been properly checked for quality, safety and efficacy, as required by strict EU authorisation, they can pose a real risk to your health. As falsified medicines become more sophisticated, the risk of them reaching patients in the EU increases. They represent a serious threat to global health and call for a comprehensive strategy both at European and International level.

To read more about Falsified medicines on the European Commission website go to: Falsified medicines – European Commission

Turkey and e-cigarettes

In a public statement made at the Turkish Grand National Assembly Commission on Planning and Budget, Minister of Finance Naci Ağbal stated that plans to allow the importation and production of heat-not-burn tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivery systems  in Turkey were withdrawn. He confirmed that these products would not be sold or produced in the country.

The announcement followed a press conference and strong public reaction to the threats posed by the tobacco industry’s proposals to begin importing and producing heat-not-burn and ENDS products in the country. The press conference, held in Ankara, Turkey, saw WHO and prominent academics and health specialists jointly voicing their condemnation of the tobacco industry’s proposed new strategy.

To read more about this announcement and the reasons behind it on the WHO Europe website to go:  http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/tobacco/news/news/2017/10/turkey-withdraws-plans-to-loosen-tobacco-control-laws

The ethics of PH surveillance

Public health officials regularly collect and analyse data to map disease, spot patterns, identify causes and respond to outbreaks. Surveillance, when conducted ethically, is the foundation for programs to promote human well-being at the population level and can contribute to reducing inequalities.

However, it is not without risks for participants and sometimes poses ethical dilemmas. It can lead to harm if people’s privacy is violated, or they are stigmatized on the basis of the information they provide about themselves.

The WHO have produced Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance – the first international framework of its kind. It outlines 17 ethical guidelines that can assist everyone involved in public health surveillance, including officials in government agencies, health workers, NGOs and the private sector.

To read the Guidelines on Ethical Issues in Public Health Surveillance

EU rules on medical devices

The EU has produced new rules on medical devices to enhance patient safety and modernise public health.

There are over 500,000 types of medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic medical devices on the EU market. Examples of medical devices are contact lenses, x-ray machines, pacemakers, breast implants and hip replacements and sticking plasters. In vitro diagnostic medical devices, which are used to perform tests on samples, include HIV blood tests, pregnancy tests and blood sugar monitoring systems for diabetics.

The new Regulations will help to ensure that all medical devices – from heart valves to sticking plasters to artificial hips – are safe and perform well. The new rules will improve market surveillance and traceability as well as make sure that all medical and in vitro diagnostic devices are designed to reflect the latest scientific and technological state-of-the art. The rules will also provide more transparency and legal certainty for producers, manufacturers and importers and help to strengthen international competitiveness and innovation in this strategic sector.

For more information on the new rules about medical devices on the europa.eu website

Measles outbreaks across Europe

Over 500 measles cases were reported for January 2017 in Europe with 85% of them coming from 7 of the 14 endemic countries (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine). Measles continues to spread within and among European countries, with the potential to cause large outbreaks wherever immunization coverage has dropped below the necessary threshold of 95%.

As the WHO Regional Director for Europe pointed out:   “Today’s travel patterns put no person or country beyond the reach of the measles virus. Outbreaks will continue in Europe, as elsewhere, until every country reaches the level of immunization needed to fully protect their populations.”

Preliminary information for February indicates that the number of new infections is sharply rising. In all of the countries listed above, estimated national immunization coverage with the second dose of measles-containing vaccine is less than the 95% threshold.

For more information about measles in Europe from the euro.who.int website

Risk assessment in the EU

The EU has produced an infographic to show how the EU’s Scientific Committees assess risks. It not only shows in a clear and concise way how the Committees function but also provides concrete examples of how their work impacts EU legislation.
To download the infographic on Risk Assessment from the ec.europa.eu website