EFSA expected to streamline approvals

The European Union's newly established food safety evaluation body, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), has replaced the Scientific Committee on Foods (SCF) and is now responsible for providing "independent scientific advice on all matters with a direct or indirect impact on food safety" within the EU.

The new body differs from the SCF in that it has a full-time staff of food scientists to deal with all food-related matters including the assessment of dossiers pertaining to the EU's Food Supplements Directive.

Industry analysts expect this change to dramatically streamline the assessment process while adding authority to the final opinions.

The SCF had recourse only to scientific volunteers and its turnaround time for assessing such matters was notoriously slow. "There will be a greater chance for industry to be consulted by those evaluating their dossiers," one industry observer noted.

Unlike the SCF, EFSA is independent of the European Commission and consists of eight independent Scientific Panels overseen by a Scientific Committee to ensure consistency among the Panel's differing fields of operation.

One of these Panels—the Panel on food additives, flavourings, processing aids and materials in contact with food—will handle food supplements issues.

EFSA is temporarily based in Brussels while it awaits its permanent location to be determined—most likely Parma in Italy or Helsinki in Finland. The former chief executive of the UK's Food Standards Agency, Geoffrey Podger, has been appointed executive director.

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