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The European Union has a comprehensive body of policies and laws in place to help ensure that Europeans have access to safe, nutritious food. A particular focus for policymakers is the need for initiatives and regulations that address the risks associated with poor nutrition, such as chronic metabolic diseases like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These risk management measures are based on rigorous, independent scientific assessments carried out by EFSA.


February 2024 – our nutrition experts are updating EFSA’s Guidance on the scientific principles and data required to assess the safety and relative bioavailability of new substances proposed as sources of micronutrients for use in food supplements, fortified foods and foods for specific groups (for infants and young children, for medical purposes, and total diet replacements for weight control). 

A draft of the updated Guidance is now available for feedback - if you are a nutrition expert, scientist or have scientific information to share, we want to hear from you during our public consultation!

Guidance documents are used by applicants when submitting scientific information in applications for market authorisation and by risk assessors during the evaluation process. We regularly update these documents to take account of the latest science and recent experience in the evaluation of applications. In addition, the European Commission asked EFSA to cover two new areas in the guidance document:

  • new forms of micronutrients (e.g. micronutrient metabolites, new molecules having vitamin activity), many of which are novel foods; and 
  • quantification of the relative bioavailability of the micronutrient from the new source to derive of a conversion factor for labelling purposes.

Send us your feedback by 14 April!

EFSA's role

EFSA has a strictly science-based advisory function, issuing non-binding advice to risk managers (the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU Member States).

The setting of public health policies, the integration of scientific advice into legal frameworks, or the authorisation of products or health claims are risk management tasks and therefore outside EFSA’s remit.

This makes EFSA’s role different to those of most other regional or international bodies active in the area of nutrition, such as the World Health Organization or the US Food and Drug Administration, which are responsible for both risk assessment and risk management/policy setting.

The work of EFSA and its Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) is largely dictated by the requirements of EU legislation or in response to specific requests from the European Commission. The main areas of activity are:

  • Dietary reference values, including tolerable upper intake levels of vitamins and minerals. See more.
  • The safety of novel foods (defined by EU legislation as “foods or ingredients which have not been consumed in the EU to a significant degree before 15 May 1997”) and nutrient sources (e.g. sources of vitamins and minerals). See more.
  • The safety of other substances intentionally added to food (e.g. plants and herbal extracts). See more.
  • Scientific advice on foods for special groups, in particular infants. See more.
  • The scientific substantiation of health claims. See more.
  • The potential of certain food ingredients to cause allergic or intolerance reactions.
  • Other generic questions related to human nutrition, such as the safety of caffeine.

Expert group