Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, Austria (AGES)

The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) is a government owned company attached to the Austrian Federal Ministry for Health and to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and performs its tasks on behalf of the Federal Austrian Government. The Agency has approximately 1.300 employees, of whom more than one third are experts with academic degrees in nearly all disciplines related to food and health safety. They are able to cope with problems concerning safe food production from soil to fork, effective control and prevention of epidemics for people, animals and plants and providing effective and safe pharmaceutical products.
AGES is the primary driving force in Austria in the pursuit of higher standards of health protection and nutrition safety. AGES analyses, inspects and issues appraisals in accordance with various Austrian federal laws such as the Food Act, Seed Act, Feedstuffs Act, Plant Protection Products Act, Fertilizer Act, Plant Variety Protection Act, Austrian Medicines Act, Medical Devices Act, Medicinal Products Import Act and Health and Food Safety Act. Furthermore, it conducts investigations in the field of veterinary medicine and works to prevent and fight infectious diseases in humans.
A main function of AGES is risk assessments and risk communication in the field of food and health safety of human, animals and plants.
The AGES Academy is a very experienced organisation unit within AGES in dissemination of food safety issues between food safety experts, researchers, authorities, companies and interest groups. AGES Academy organises workshops, discussions, national and international conferences.

Website: Link

Contact Person: Christoph Unger

AGES @ promise

Knowledge transfer and dissemination of the results form a very important part of the PROMISE project. One of the main goals was to inform the relevant stakeholders about the outcomes and findings of the consortium. Naturally, this included the scientific community but in our case also policy-makers, industry and SMEs as well as the media and the general public as such.

Risk assessment and risk communication in the field of food safety and health is the daily work of AGES (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety). We also give advice on risk management and conduct risk management in government agencies. AGES works at interdisciplinary levels. Our tasks comprise food security, food safety, healthcare and consumer protection.

As a state-owned company under private law with a strong public service mission we are used to interacting with authorities, the industry and the public. For dissemination purposes, the agency has established a special unit: AGES Academy. Therefore, we were happy to join the consortium and bring in our experience there. 

Within WP 5 “Interacting with stakeholders and policy makers” AGES coordinated dissemination activities in order to provide the right information for the right target audience.

As task leader 5.5 this included the organisation of a special stakeholder event about Campylobacter, the final PROMISE workshop on best practice in risk communication and last but not least the joint PROMISE and BacFoodNet conference in Vienna, Austria. With more than 120 scientific experts from all over Europe and national stakeholders under the roof of the AGES headquarters the latter event can truly be regarded as a personal highlight. The idea to combine two different European projects in a three day conference and to coordinate 40 different speakers in eight sessions only added to the challenge. But I must say the results were more than worth the efforts. Radio and TV coverage in the Austrian news was only the icing on the cake. 

As AGES, we definitely benefit from the results of PROMISE and will include them in our daily work for food safety and health.

From a personal perspective I really appreciated the “PROMISE spirit” during the whole project.

No matter what difficulties we had to face, be it missing data or menacing deadlines the group kept together and helped each other out. Bringing together people to enable them to share their ideas and discuss solutions in order to create a better future – that’s what Europe is about.