NETMAP ANALYSES: Mapping National Food Safety Systems

Articles | 2022-01-13 | Fred Bayer


A powerful methodology applied for the first time ever to national Food Safety Systems

Thanks to the innovative methodological work and digital adaptation by Wageningen University, as part of the FoodSafety4EU platform, the Net Map Analysis methodology has been applied in December 2021, for the first time ever, to the Italian national Food Safety System (FSS)!

The overall aims of this Net Mapping were to:

  • Identify who are the stakeholders in the Italian science -policy- society (SPS) collaboration system,
  • Describe their respective missions, contributing to risk assessment, risk management, and/or risk communication,
  • Define the main links between all those stakeholders: data exchanging, communication, etc.
  • Point out the constraints in their relations, resources and capabilities in conducting risk analysis (i.e. risk assessment, risk communication, risk management

Here is a short video to better understand the methodology:

Here, with Italian voiceover:


South Hub NetMap : 10 high-level Italian experts reflecting together on their national Food Safety System

On Thursday 9th of December 2021, 10 Italian experts representing national risk assessment, risk management and risk communication areas put their heads together at work through this novel methodology. We would like to thank them:

  • Dr Rossana Valentini, Direttore Ufficio, Ufficio 2-DGOCTS, Ministero della salute
  • Dr Francesca Roberti, Chimico, Ufficio 8 – DGISAN, Ministero della Salute
  • Dr Michele Suman, Food Safety & Authenticity Research Manager, Barilla SpA
  • Luisa Crisigiovanni, Segretario generale, Altroconsumo
  • Dr Ivan Pecorelli, Dirigente Chimico, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Umbria e delle Marche (IZSUM)
  • Dr Stefano Pongolini, Risk Analysis and Genomic Epidemiology Unit, IZS Lombardia e dell’Emilia-Romagna (IZSLER)
  • Dr Stefania Crovato and Dr Barbara Tiozzo, Laboratorio comunicazione, IZS delle Venezie (IZSVe), members of EFSA’s Communications Experts Network
  • Dr Chiara Dall’Asta, Associate Professor, Universita degli Studi di Parma
  • Dr Francesca Debegnach, Italian National Institute of Health, Department of Food Safety, Nutrition and Veterinary Public Health

For more than 5 hours online, facilitated by CNR – ISPA, FS4EU coordinator, they dedicated their mind and enthusiasm to this delicate task of mapping the Italian FSS, which they all actively take part in, and identifying its potential needs for improvement in the food risk analysis process.


One of the co-constructed network mapping of the Italian Food Safety System


West Hub NetMap : 9 high-level Belgian experts in risk analysis related to circular economy and recycled food packaging materials

On Friday 14th of January 2022, from 9:00 to 12:45, 9 Belgian FSS experts got down to map their fellow national stakeholders involved in risk analysis related to recycled food packaging materials in a circular economy, more specifically paper and cardboard packaging. We would like to thank again the 9 involved experts:

  • Dr. Xavier Van Huffel, Senior expert in safety of the food chain, Former Director Risk Assessment of the Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain
  • Ir. Wendie Claeys, Scientific expert (chemical risks), Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain
  • Dr. Els Van Hoeck, Head of service Organic contaminants and Additives, Sciensano
  • Els Heyvaert, Regulatory Expert Food Contact Materials and Food for Specific Groups, Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment
  • Ir. Alexander Platteeuw, Food safety coach & trainer and owner of A+ Quality
  • Evelien De Ridder, Quality Manager Packaging & Food Contact Materials, Colruyt Group
  • Dr. Wim Geeraerts, Food Policy Advisor, Fevia
  • Willem van Veen, Senior Advisor Sustainability & Food Contact, inDUfed
  • Prof. dr. Bruno De Meulenaer, Department of Food Technology, Safety and Health, UGent

Special thanks to Prof. dr. Sarah De Saeger, Dr. Celine Meerpoel (Notekeeper and research assistant) and Niels van der Linden (technical support) for creating the adequate conditions for the West Hub NetMap and its expert participants, who proved very active and even requested a follow-up meeting.

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One of the co-constructed network mapping of the Belgian Food Safety System


In total, 4 FS4EU Hubs to undergo this exercise

In the FoodSafety4EU Platform, partners and stakeholders coming from all over Europe (and more) are divided into 4 geographical Hubs. Therefore, this NetMap Analysis methodology will be collectively applied another 2 times in early 2022:

  • in Czech Republic, for the East Hub
  • in Finland, for the North Hub

In the end, when all the data from this Netmapping session will be crunched and processed, each Hub’s representative country is expected to have a clearer, more complete picture of their national FSS, both quantifying and qualifying the role and influence of every stakeholder.

Knowing how different actors interact within a system, can facilitate the understanding of some connections at National level among the players, who sometimes could be not completely integrated, due to different strict institutional roles and functions. This could not generate a smooth room for a structured dialogue.

It’s being discussed how to valorize this kind of exercise and how to design a model to be experimented, and hopefully adopted, if proving relevant, by the main institutions in the Food Safety Systems of the EU Member States and affiliated countries.

Presenting this approach and the Hub cases to policy makers will help them, as well as all the other actors of their national FSS, to be more efficient, as they will be able to rationally prioritize both relevant calls to action and specific channels of communication between actors.

As we improve continuously, there is no doubt that those next NetMap Analysis will prove ever more fruitful, so stay tuned for those events!

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