Commission Press Release (IP/05/765), 21 June 2005
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is being officially inaugurated at its seat in Parma today. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and EFSA Executive Director Geoffrey Podger are among those attending the ceremony. Set up in 2002, EFSA has been functional since the beginning of 2003, providing independent scientific assessment and advice, particularly in the area of food safety, to EU policy and decision makers.
“Confident consumers are the cornerstone of a competitive economy, and the European Food Safety Authority has an important role to play in boosting this confidence,” President Barroso said. “EU citizens can trust that sound and independent scientific advice is being used to ensure the highest level of consumer protection and food safety throughout Europe.”
Commissioner Kyprianou stated, “Achieving the highest possible food safety standards to protect the health of EU citizens is no small task, and it is one that the Commission takes very seriously. European consumers already benefit from the most rigorous food safety system in the world, thanks to the thoroughness of EU food law, underpinned at every point by scientific information. But we cannot let our guard down when it comes to protecting EU consumers, and must continue to respond to new challenges as they arise. EFSA can provide quality, accessible scientific advice, which will allow timely, effective decision-making and enable the high level of EU food safety to be maintained.”
The establishment of EFSA, as an independent agency to support the work of the EU institutions in protecting European consumers, was a key measure within the Commission’s White Paper on Food Safety. The Authority, which has been up and running since early 2003, has a wide range of responsibilities, from carrying out scientific assessments to disseminating new information and networking with other scientific bodies, in particular those in the Member States. Through its work, EFSA provides material for its main “customer” – the Commission – to build on the solid framework of EU food safety legislation. The agency also responds to scientific questions from the European Parliament and Member States, and provides the public with understandable scientific information on a wide range of issues.
The globalisation of the food chain is continually throwing up new challenges and risks to the health and safety of EU consumers. However, the Commission and EFSA have forged a sound partnership to assess, manage and minimise any potential threats. EFSA is primarily responsible for risk assessment, while the Commission remains in charge of risk management and proposing what action should be taken. In pursuing clearly defined and separate roles, the aim is to establish credibility and consistency in the EU’s food safety messages.
The Commission has developed a comprehensive body of food safety legislation, which is continually being monitored and adapted as new requirements arise. EFSA’s work complements that of the Commission and other EU institutions, by providing objective, transparent, scientific opinions upon which basis decisions can be made.