The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is an independent provider of scientific advice and communication on risks associated with the food chain. The remit of this European Union body covers food and feed safety, nutrition, animal health and welfare, plant protection and plant health.
Based in Parma, Italy, EFSA was established in January 2002 following a series of food crises in the late 1990s, and acts as a source of independent scientific advice on existing and emerging risks.
EFSA was created as part of a comprehensive programme to improve EU food safety, to ensure a high level of consumer protection and restore and maintain confidence in the EU food supply.
Its main role is to assess and communicate on all risks associated with the food chain. Since EFSA’s advice supports the policies and decisions of risk managers, a large part of its work is undertaken in response to specific requests for scientific advice. These requests are mainly from the European Commission, but also come from the European Parliament and EU Member States.
EFSA also undertakes scientific work on its own initiative.
In addition to its 400 members of staff, the Authority can also call on 1,200 external scientific experts. Its Advisory Forum network comprises the 27 Member States, as well as the European Commission and three countries as observers.
Since its establishment, EFSA has adopted some 1,000 scientific opinions. It works by consulting with its stakeholders and seeking input from interested parties on its work and activities. It also works closely with national food safety authorities across the EU, and co-operates with the European Commission, the Parliament, and other EU bodies and international organizations active in food and feed safety.
In the European food safety system, risk assessment is conducted independently from risk assessment. As the risk assessor, EFSA produces scientific opinions and advice to provide a foundation for European policies and legislation and to provide support in taking risk management decisions.
To find out more about EFSA, go to: www.efsa.europa.eu