Many scientific studies have been conducted to help understand the pathogenesis and spread of transmissible animal diseases to humans. Assessing the risk of transmission of these disease agents from animals to humans has been the driving force behind most of such work.

The media and other communication channels have attempted to interpret research findings in this field, and also to report on consumer concerns. However, the outcome has often been a bewildering jumble of knowledge and speculation.

As a result, consumers and food producers have been bombarded with information and suggestions for action that were based on a confusing combination of facts and fiction.

Meanwhile, against this background, the food industry and its regulators are doing their utmost to implement procedures designed to prevent the potential transmission of animal disease agents to humans through food products.

There is, sadly, little exchange of information amongst the involved parties – though, thanks to the TAFS forum, much progress had been made with regard to BSE.

Nonetheless, there remains an urgent need to enhance communication amongst all these parties in order to improve understanding of the key issues – especially so far as additional diseases are concerned – and thus achieve the twin goals of risk reduction and consumer confidence in food safety.

Hence the TAFS forum.