Green light for European food safety agency

Ministerial approval opens the way for new agency to begin operating by the autumn

A new European food safety agency (EFSA) could be up and running by the autumn following official approval of a regulation underpinning the new body by EU farm ministers yesterday. EFSA's creation was a key element in a January 2000 white paper on food safety issued by the European Commission, after a series of health scares had damaged credibility in existing systems (EED 12/01/00).

EFSA will provide independent scientific advice and support to policy makers in all fields with a direct or indirect impact on the safety of food or animal feed. Its launch will involve a wholesale restructuring of the EU's scientific committee system. It will also create a new rapid alert system for feed, the need for which was shown by recent incidents of PCB contamination (EED 22/05/00).

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