EFSA faces the future at inaugural new board meeting

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Efsa, European union

EFSA renewed its mandate of the Stakeholder Consultative Platform
and discussed future strategic priorities at its inaugural new
management board meeting this week.

The event was also marked by the confirmation of Patrick Wall as chair and Diana Banati and Deirdre Hutton as vice-chairs of Europe's food safety authority.

"Board members look forward to the challenges ahead and to supporting and guiding EFSA to achieve its aim to enhance consumer protection,"​ said Wall.

"EFSA is a phenomenal resource for all EU citizens and it is an honour to be elected chair and help contribute to the next phase."

The meeting comes at a critical time for EFSA. The appointment of Catherine Geslain-Laneelle as its chief executive was taken only last April, while the organisation has had to deal with a move to Parma, Italy, and ongoing criticism that it cannot achieve true independence.

The meeting therefore provided the opportunity to take stock, and plan strategically for future challenges ahead.

The board welcomed the conclusions arising from EFSA's external evaluation, adopted by the previous management board on 30 June 2006, which will serve as basis for EFSA's future development. Members also requested that EFSA's progress in achieving these objectives be reviewed on a twice-yearly basis.

Members agreed on a renewed mandate of three years for the EFSA Stakeholder Consultative Platform, thereby confirming the establishment of the platform as a consultative body and forum for exchange and discussion between the authority and its stakeholders.

The board also reviewed EFSA's communications strategy and plans in light of its recommendations to enhance the impact and effectiveness of EFSA Communications arising from EFSA's external evaluation.

EFSA's primary responsibility is to provide independent scientific advice on all matters concerning food safety. The authority assesses risks to the food chain and carries out scientific assessment on any matter that may affect the safety of food within the EU.

Essentially, EFSA rests on four pillars: the management board, the executive director, an advisory forum composed of member states, and the scientific committee and eight panels. The job of the experts, selected from around the globe, is to carry out an extensive risk assessment, from which to formulate a scientific opinion.

Once created, the opinion returns back to the risk managers, such as the European Commission or European Parliament. While the majority of questions have so far emanated from the Commission, Parliament and member states have started to approach EFSA.

The authority has already provided evidence on a range of issues such as sodium intake, the safety of aspartame, farmed fish and various food additives.

The European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States rely on EFSA as an independent and transparent risk assessment process as a basis for taking informed risk management decisions.

Related topics: Market Trends, Food Safety & Quality

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