European Food Safety Authority

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the agency of the European Union (EU) that provides independent scientific advice and communicates on existing and emerging risks associated with the food chain.[1][2] EFSA was established in February 2002, is based in Parma, Italy, and has a budget for 2016 of €79.5 million,[3] and a total staff of 447.[4]

European Food Safety Authority
EFSA logo.svg
EFSA Parma Headquarters.jpeg
Headquarters in Parma
Authority overview
Formed21 February 2002 (2002-02-21)
JurisdictionEuropean Union
HeadquartersParma, Italy
MottoCommitted to ensuring that Europe's food is safe
Authority executive
  • Bernhard Url, Executive Director
Key document
European Food Safety Authority is located in European Union
European Food Safety Authority (European Union)

The work of EFSA covers all matters with a direct or indirect impact on food and feed safety, including animal health and welfare, plant protection and plant health and nutrition. EFSA supports the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU member states in taking effective and timely risk management decisions that ensure the protection of the health of European consumers and the safety of the food and feed chain. EFSA also communicates to the public in an open and transparent way on all matters within its remit.


Based on a regulation of 2002,[2] the EFSA is composed of four bodies:

  • Management Board[5]
  • Executive Director
  • Advisory Forum
  • Scientific Committee and Scientific Panels

The Management Board sets the budget, approves work programmes, and is responsible for ensuring that EFSA co-operates successfully with partner organisations across the EU and beyond. It is composed of fourteen members appointed by the Council of the European Union in consultation with the European Parliament from a list drawn up by the European Commission, plus one representative of the European Commission.

The Executive Director is EFSA's legal representative and is responsible for day-to-day administration, drafting and implementing work programmes, and implementing other decisions adopted by the Management Board. They are appointed by the Management Board.

The Advisory Forum advises the Executive Director, in particular in drafting a proposal for the EFSA's work programmes. It is composed of representatives of national bodies responsible for risk assessment in the Member States, with observers from Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and the European Commission.

The Scientific Committee and its Scientific Panels provide scientific opinions and advice, each within their own sphere of competence, and are composed of independent scientific experts. The number and names of the Scientific Panels are adapted in the light of technical and scientific development by the European Commission at EFSA's request. The independent scientific experts are appointed by the Management Board upon a proposal from the Executive Director for three-year terms.

Focal Point networkEdit

The EFSA cooperates with the national food safety authorities of the 28 EU member states, Iceland and Norway, as well as observers from Switzerland and EU candidate countries, through its Focal Points, who also communicate with research institutes and other stakeholders. They 'assist in the exchange of scientific information and experts, advise on cooperation activities and scientific projects, promote training in risk assessment and raise EFSA’s scientific visibility and outreach in Member States.'[6]


The following countries' national food safety authorities are members of the EFSA Focal Point network:[7]

Country Food safety authority
  Austria Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety [de] (AGES)
  Belgium Federal Public Service (FPS) Health Food Chain Safety and Environment
  Bulgaria Risk Assessment Center on Food Chain – Bulgarian Food Safety Agency
  Croatia Croatian Food Agency (HAH)
  Cyprus Ministry of Health - The State General Laboratory
  Czech Republic Ministry of Agriculture - Food Safety Department
  Denmark National Food Institute [da]
  Estonia Ministry of Agriculture - Food Safety Department
  Finland Finnish Food Safety Authority (Ruokavirasto)
  France French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES)
  Germany Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
  Greece Hellenic Food Authority (EFET)
  Hungary National Food Chain Safety Office Directorate for Food Safety Risk Assessment
  Iceland The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority
  Ireland Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI)
  Italy Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS)
  Latvia Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment “BIOR”
  Lithuania State Food and Veterinary Service
  Luxembourg Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health
  Malta Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority
  Netherlands Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority [nl] (NVWA)
  Norway Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM)
  Poland Chief Sanitary Inspectorate [pl] (GIS)
  Portugal Economic and Food Safety Authority (ASAE)
  Romania National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority
  Slovakia Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
  Slovenia Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food
  Spain Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN)
  Sweden Swedish National Food Agency


The following countries' national food safety authorities are observers of the EFSA Focal Point network:[7]

Country Food safety authority
  Albania National Food Authority
  Bosnia and Herzegovina Food Safety Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Kosovo Food and Veterinary Agency
  Montenegro Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
  North Macedonia Food and Veterinary Agency
  Serbia Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection
   Switzerland Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) – Risk assessment division
  Turkey Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry


The scientific output of the European Food Safety Authority is published in the EFSA Journal, an open-access, online scientific journal. This concerns risk assessment in relation to food and feed and includes nutrition, animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection.[8]


The EFSA has been criticised for its alleged "overregulation".[9]

Conflicts of interestsEdit

The EFSA has been criticised, including by the European Court of Auditors in 2012[10], for "frequent conflicts of interests",[11][12][13][14][15][16] some of them undeclared.[17][18]

According to Corporate Europe Observatory, in 2013, 58 % of the experts of the agency were in situation of conflict of interests.[19] In 2017, they were still 46 % in situation of conflict of interests.[19]


EFSA has also been criticised by the NGO CHEM Trust for misrepresenting the results of their expert committee's report on bisphenol A (BPA) in January 2015. EFSA claimed in the abstract, press release and briefing that bisphenol A 'posed no risk' to health, when the expert report actually stated the risk was 'low' when considering aggregate exposure (beyond just food).[20] EFSA later modified the abstract to correct this error,[21] though the press release remains unchanged.[22] EFSA have argued that use of 'no health concern' in their press release and bisphenol A briefing is to ensure these materials are accessible, though this rationale is disputed by CHEM Trust.[23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "How the European Union works" Archived 2006-06-20 at the Wayback Machine, booklet made by the European Commission
  2. ^ a b Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety
  3. ^ 67th Management Board meeting, EFSA press release, 3 December 2015
  4. ^ "EFSA annual activity report 2017". 2018-06-22.
  5. ^ "Management Board members". EFSE. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  6. ^ "Focal points: EU food safety interfaces". EFSA website. European Food Safety Authority. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Focal Point members and observers". EFSA website. European Food Safety Authority. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  8. ^ "EFSA Journal". EFSA. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  9. ^ Peterson, M.J.; White, Paul A. (June 2010). "Case Study: The EU-US Dispute over Regulation of Genetically Modified Organisms, Plants, Feeds, and Foods". International Dimensions of Ethics Education in Science and Engineering (9).
  10. ^ European Court of Auditors, 2012, Management of conflict of interest in selected EU Agencies ; Special Report no 15 2012 Archived 2012-11-12 at the Wayback Machine ; ISBN 978-92-9237-876-9 ; doi:10.2865/21104, PDF, 106 pp
  11. ^ "Food safety agency's reliability faces fresh criticism". EurActiv. 15 February 2012.
  12. ^ "Unhappy meal. The European Food Safety Authority's independence problem", Corporate Europe Observatory
  13. ^ Oppong, Marvin. "Le gendarme des aliments trop laxiste - VoxEurop (Français)".
  14. ^ Title:"Europe : le lobby OGM infiltré à la tête de la sécurité alimentaire", Libération, 29 septembre 2010
  15. ^ Massiot, Aude (September 15, 2017). "Glyphosate : l'autorité européenne de sécurité des aliments sous influence de Monsanto ?". Libé
  16. ^ "Glyphosate : Quand l'UE base ses décisions sur un copié-collé de… Monsanto". 2017-09-15.
  17. ^ "Exposed: conflicts of interest among EFSA's experts on food additives" (PDF). 15 June 2011. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  18. ^ « L’EFSA perd un peu plus de crédibilité »,, juin 2011
  19. ^ a b Stéphane Horel (2018). Lobbytomie : comment les lobbies empoisonnent nos vies et la démocratie [Lobbying: how lobbies poison our lives and democracy] (in French). La Découverte. p. 270. ISBN 9782707194121.
  20. ^ CHEM Trust (21 January 2015). "Bisphenol A – new EFSA assessment cuts safe exposure level, calls for more research (updated)". CHEM Trust. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  21. ^ CHEM Trust (2 April 2015). "EFSA corrects its risk assessment of bisphenol A to acknowledge that experts didn't say 'no health concern'". CHEM Trust. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  22. ^ CHEM Trust (2 April 2015). "We write to EFSA: Why did you misrepresent the results of the Risk Assessment of Bisphenol A?". CHEM Trust. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  23. ^ CHEM Trust (22 April 2015). "EU Food Authority responds to letter on misleading communication on Bisphenol A risks, claims 'simplification' for 'accessibility'". CHEM Trust. Retrieved 23 April 2015.

External linksEdit