EFSA’s commitment to ensuring that Europe’s food is safe – 10 years and going from strength to strength
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has played a key role in European Union (EU) risk assessment regarding food and feed safety since 2002. EFSA is striving towards excellence and is recognised as the European reference body for risk assessment on food and feed, nutrition, animal and plant health. During its 10th anniversary year, EFSA will be highlighting how its scientific work has contributed to the protection of European consumers and will also be looking to shape the future. The world has changed since EFSA was set up. In the second decade of the 21st century new trends and emerging issues are affecting both the nature and volume of the Authority’s work. EFSA has strengthened its ties with its partners and stakeholders in the EU and beyond and, with its newly adopted science strategy and comprehensive policy to ensure the independence of its scientific decision-making processes, will continue to enhance its support to the EU food safety chain and build confidence in EU risk assessment.
Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli said "EFSA's credibility and scientific excellence is today being recognised on the world stage. Sound scientific data is crucial to good policy-making. EFSA has carried out important risk assessment work and I trust that it will build on its achievements of the last 10 years. Our vision is to continue ensuring that food has the highest standards of safety for our citizens."
Over the past 10 years, EFSA has underpinned EU policy measures through its extensive scientific work – grounded in up-to-date knowledge and data – in food and feed safety, nutrition, animal health and welfare, plant protection and plant health. As a result, European consumers enjoy a high level of protection and are increasingly well informed as regards risks in the food and feed chain.
“The world has changed since EFSA’s inception and EFSA is changing with it”, said Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, EFSA’s Executive Director.
“EFSA has re-structured internally both in support of its Science Strategy for 2012-2016 and to evolve with the risk assessment landscape that it has helped to define. These reforms will allow the Authority to be as flexible and reactive as possible to risk management needs while continuing to protect European consumers. EFSA will continue to shape the future of risk assessment through experience, flexibility and commitment, in particular to its core values of openness and transparency, scientific excellence, independence and responsiveness.”
As an open and listening organisation and building on its experience, EFSA will continue to strengthen the rigorous procedures in place to ensure the independence of its scientific decision-making processes, thereby building trust in the quality of its science.
Did you know that EFSA has in the past 10 years
- provided scientific advice which contributed to the successful reduction of human Salmonella cases in EU (reduced by almost 50% from 2004 to 2009);
- evaluated more than 3,000 health claims, providing the scientific basis to protect European consumers from potentially misleading labelling and advertising of food products;
- re-evaluated the majority of food colours currently approved on the EU market during its ongoing process of evaluating all food additives;
- analysed on a yearly basis the data from EU-Member States controls on zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance in animals and food as well as consumer exposure to pesticide residues;
- developed a wide range of guidance documents to support applicants submitting applications for regulated products (e.g. feed additives) as well as general guidance for risk assessment in various fields such as new technologies (e.g. nanotechnologies);
- published more than 2,500 scientific outputs that have been used as the basis for EU food and feed safety risk management measures and policy initiatives;
- pooled together more than 1,500 independent scientific experts to carry out its risk assessments;
- implemented one of the most robust systems to ensure the impartiality of scientific advice, as benchmarked amongst peer organisations in an independent report;
- grown from less than 30 staff in 2002 to more than 450 staff members;
- set up effective cooperation and information exchange structures bringing together all EU Member States based on its strategy for cooperation and networking and established effective contacts with stakeholders;
- worked closely with sister agencies in the EU (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, European Medicines Agency and European Chemicals Agency) and reached out to risk assessment bodies beyond the EU in order to facilitate co-operation in risk assessment worldwide.
Anniversary year information and events
To mark the anniversary year, EFSA has published a dedicated section on its website providing concrete examples of the Authority’s work in the past 10 years and information on upcoming events. The section will be updated throughout the year. In addition, EFSA’s anniversary year can be followed on Twitter @EFSA_EU. EFSA in collaboration with the European Commission, as well as with partners in Member States, will also be organising joint events in 2012 marking the 10th anniversary of the creation of both EFSA and the general EU Food law.
EFSA will in particular organise for its key partners and stakeholders a scientific conference to be held in Parma, Italy in November. The conference, which is expected to bring together over 500 scientific experts and other interested parties, will focus on key aspects of EFSA’s new Science Strategy. Further information about this and other events will be published in the dedicated web section in spring 2012.
The Council of Ministers and the European Parliament decided, in January 2002, upon a proposal from the Commission, to set up the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as an independent source of scientific advice and communication on risks associated with the food chain. EFSA was created as part of a comprehensive programme to improve EU food safety, ensure a high level of consumer protection and restore and maintain confidence in the EU food supply.
In the European food safety system, risk assessment is done independently from risk management. As the risk assessor, EFSA produces scientific opinions and advice to provide a sound foundation for European policies and legislation and to support the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Member States in taking effective and timely risk management decisions. EFSA’s remit covers food and feed safety, nutrition, animal health and welfare, plant protection and plant health.
Through its risk communications activities EFSA seeks to raise awareness and further explain the implications of its scientific work. EFSA aims to provide appropriate, consistent, accurate and timely communications on food safety issues to all stakeholders and the public at large, based on the Authority’s risk assessments and scientific expertise.