Increased cooperation in food safety assessment

The Executive Director of the European Food Safety Authority, Geoffrey Podger, opened the first meeting of its Advisory Forum today. This body is a vital component of food safety assessment in Europe, as it will sit right at the heart of the extensive food safety network that is being set up at the present time. This network will have direct links to food authorities, decision makers and the best expertise in each of the EU Member States. The Advisory Forum will therefore play a leading role in making the input to EU food safety decision making much more coherent.

One of the most important tasks of the European Food Safety Authority is to cooperate closely with competent bodies in the different EU Member States in order to better integrate the EU approach to food safety assessment. Therefore, the most appropriate representatives of the Member States have been selected as members of the Authority’s Advisory Forum. Their job is to advise the European Food Safety Authority on relevant issues relating to food safety, to enable high quality information exchange and to greatly improve networking and cooperation in food safety assessment.

This initiative is coupled with the set up of a Scientific Committee and panels. These will continue the work of existing European Commission operated scientific committees, and will progressively take on new risk assessment tasks. The system is being adjusted in order to enhance scientific consistency in relation to the food supply chain, and to allow the best available scientists to work effectively as effectively as possible. The intention is to ensure independence and openness, while improving the focus and efficiency of scientific work, within an approach which is tailored uniquely to food safety assessment. The open call for the scientists who will participate in the committee and panels allows for worldwide participation, and will close on 14 March 2003.

It is intended that the intertwining of these two approaches will improve the way that food safety is assessed in Europe, and thereby provide enhanced input to the decision making which results from the work of the experts. The expectation is that the combination of independence, openness and focus, as

well as a more integrated approach and more extensive networking of scientists and decision makers, will lead to quicker and better decision making over time.

The Advisory Forum begins its operations today, and the EFSA Scientific Committee and panels are programmed to meet from May/June onwards.