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About us

Who we are

We are an agency of the European Union set up in 2002 to serve as an impartial source of scientific advice to risk managers and to communicate on risks associated with the food chain. We cooperate with interested parties to promote the coherence of EU scientific advice. We provide the scientific basis for laws and regulations to protect European consumers from food-related risks – from farm to fork.

How we work

The core of our activities is to collect, appraise and integrate scientific evidence to answer questions about risks. The outcome of our work is scientific advice to risk managers, jointly produced by independent experts and EFSA staff. Everything we do is guided by our values of Excellence, Independence, Openness, Accountability and Cooperation. The transparency of our processes, together with our engagement activities, allows for interested parties to scrutinise our work and interact with us in an open dialogue on equal terms. We communicate about risks in the food chain independently and in a way that meets the needs of our audiences. Together with our Member States partners, we build the European food safety knowledge ecosystem, ensuring safe food as the basis for healthy diets and sustainable food systems.

Who we work with

Individual experts and competent organisations are our main knowledge partners. To nurture these relations, we cooperate intensively with Member States risk assessment organisations via the Advisory Forum, the National Focal Points and our Scientific Networks. Likewise, we work with other EU agencies, international organisations and risk assessors in third countries to increase outreach and joint food safety impact. EU citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries of our work: we engage with them and our stakeholders through a multitude of platforms and fora.

Providing scientific advice

Most of EFSA’s work is undertaken in response to requests for scientific advice from the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU Member States.

We also carry out scientific work on our own initiative, in particular to examine emerging issues and new hazards and to update our assessment methods and approaches. This is known as “self-tasking”.

  • EFSA organises its work programme – annual and multi-annual – according to priorities agreed with the European Commission and other partners, taking into account available resources.
  • We consult closely to ensure that our programme complements those of our partners – particularly national authorities and food safety agencies in EU Member States – and to avoid overlap and duplication of work and effort.
  • EFSA’s scientific advice is mostly provided by its Scientific Panels and Scientific Committee, members of which are appointed through an open selection procedure.
  • EFSA staff may also produce scientific outputs on behalf of the agency, such as peer reviews of the assessment of active substances in pesticides, or responses to urgent requests for advice. EFSA staff also monitor and analyse information and data on biological hazards, chemical contaminants, food consumption and emerging risks.

Principles and practices

EFSA adheres to a number of principles and practices aimed at ensuring the excellence of our work. These include:

  • A commitment to openness and transparency in all our work.
  • The development of a comprehensive body of good risk assessment practices to guide our Scientific Committee and Panel experts.
  • A quality management system (QMS) that continually monitors and strengthens the quality of EFSA’s scientific work. This includes self-review and customer feedback systems which ensure that scientific processes are developed consistently and continuously improved. EFSA’s QMS has been awarded an ISO 9001:2015 certificate, the international standard for quality management.
  • Reviews and inspections carried out by an internal auditor reporting to the EFSA’s Management Board’s Audit Committee, which advises senior management on possible improvements to work practices.
  • External evaluation: EFSA’s Founding Regulation obliges the Authority to commission independent external evaluations of its work and working practices. Based on these evaluations, the Management Board makes recommendations on EFSA’s future management plans and strategies. The third and most recent evaluation was completed in 2018 and covered the period from 2011 to 2016.
  • A health, safety and environmental (HSE) management system that aims to continuously improve working conditions and ensure a sustainable business. Regular third-party audits certify that the system is fully aligned with the relevant standards and regulations in the field (i.e. BS-OHSAS 18001:2007, ISO 14001:2015 and EMAS regulation).

In addition the Authority is legally bound by European Union legislation on issues such as public access to documents.