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]

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.

European Food Safety Authority
EFSA logo
EFSA Parma Headquarters.jpeg

Headquarters in Parma
Authority overview
Formed21 February 2002
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)


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 network

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 (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
 Estonia Ministry of Agriculture - Food Safety Department
 Finland Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira)
 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 (NVWA)
 Norway Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM)
 Poland Chief Sanitary Inspectorate (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 Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN)
 Sweden Swedish National Food Agency
 United Kingdom Food Standards Agency (FSA)


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]


EFSA has been criticised for their alleged overregulation,[9] as well as allegations of "frequent conflicts of interest",[10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] some of them undeclared.[12]

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).[19] EFSA later modified the abstract to correct this error,[20] though the press release remains unchanged.[21] 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.[22]

See also

Notes and references

  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. ^ "Food safety agency's reliability faces fresh criticism". EurActiv. 15 February 2012.
  11. ^ "Unhappy meal. The European Food Safety Authority's independence problem", Corporate Europe Observatory
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^ « L’EFSA perd un peu plus de crédibilité »,, juin 2011
  14. ^ « Le gendarme des aliments trop laxiste »
  15. ^, novembre 2011 ECA (european court of auditors) (2012), Management of conflict of interest in selected EU Agencies ; Special Report no 15 2012 ; ISBN 978-92-9237-876-9 ; Doi:10.2865/21104, PDF, 106 pp
  16. ^ Title:"Europe : le lobby OGM infiltré à la tête de la sécurité alimentaire", Libération, 29 septembre 2010
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Glyphosate : Quand l'UE base ses décisions sur un copié-collé de… Monsanto". 2017-09-15.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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 links

Media related to European Food Safety Authority at Wikimedia Commons


3-MCPD (3-monochloropropane-1,2-diol or 3-chloropropane-1,2-diol) is an organic chemical compound which is the most common member of chemical food contaminants known as chloropropanols. It is suspected to be carcinogenic in humans.

It is primarily created in foods during protein hydrolysis when hydrochloric acid is added at high temperature to speed up the breakdown of proteins into amino acids. As a byproduct of this process, chloride can react with the glycerol backbone of lipids to produce 3-MCPD. 3-MCPD can also occur in foods which have been in contact with materials containing epichlorohydrin-based wet-strength resins which are used in the production of some tea bags and sausage casings.In 2009, 3-MCPD was found in some East Asian and Southeast Asian sauces such as oyster sauce, Hoisin sauce, and soy sauce. Using hydrochloric acid rather than traditional slow fermentation is a far cheaper and faster method but unavoidably creates chloropropanols. A 2013 European Food Safety Authority report indicated margarine, vegetable oils (excluding walnut oil), preserved meats, bread, and fine bakery wares as major sources in Europe.3-MCPD can also be found in many paper products treated with polyamidoamine-epichlorohydrin wet-strength resins.


An anticarcinogen (also known as a carcinopreventive agent) is a substance that counteracts the effects of a carcinogen or inhibits the development of cancer. Anticarcinogens are different from anticarcinoma agents (also known as anticancer or anti-neoplastic agents) in that anticarcinoma agents are used to selectively destroy or inhibit cancer cells after cancer has developed. Interest in anticarcinogens is motivated primarily by the principle that it is preferable to prevent disease (preventive medicine) than to have to treat it (rescue medicine).In theory, anticarcinogens may act via different mechanisms including enhancement of natural defences against cancer, deactivation of carcinogens, and blocking the mechanisms by which carcinogens act (such as free radical damage to DNA). Confirmation that a substance possesses anticarcinogenic activity requires extensive in vitro, in vivo, and clinical investigation. Health claims for anticarcinogens are regulated by various national and international organizations like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).


Becel is a brand of margarine produced by Upfield and sold in a number of countries including Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and Turkey. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa the product is sold under the name Flora, in France as Fruit d'Or, in Israel as Mazola, and in the United States as Promise.

The name Becel originates from the three letter acronym BCL (Blood Cholesterol Lowering). When introduced, the blood cholesterol lowering effect was achieved by modifying the triacylglycerol (TAG) profile of the fat used in the margarine: an increased level of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) reduces the blood cholesterol level. More recently, products were introduced under the "Pro-activ" sub-brand. These products are based on the effects of plant sterols and sterol esters on blood cholesterol lowering. In recent years the Becel/Flora brand has added cooking oil, pot yogurt and yogurt drinks to the non-margarine products, all of which are designed to help lower blood cholesterol level. This is achieved by a highly increased resorption of beta-sitosterol and other phytosterols which accumulate especially in the intima of blood vessels and may cause arteriosclerotic plaques. In consequence, consumption of Becel products does not lower the risk for coronary diseases such as arteriosclerosis and therefore does not inherit any medical benefits.Trends over the last couple of years have shown a greater demand for margarine over butter. Unilever is a margarine-producing company that has taken advantage of this public shift towards assumed "healthier" fat options by producing a variety of non-hydrogenated, low in saturated fats margarines.

Calcium citrate malate

Calcium citrate malate is a water-soluble calcium supplement. It is the calcium salt of citric acid and malic acid with variable composition.

Calcium citrate malate's bioavailability stems from its water-solubility and its method of dissolution. When dissolved, it releases calcium ions and a calcium citrate complex. Calcium ions are absorbed directly into intestinal cells, and the citrate complex enters the body through paracellular absorption.Calcium citrate malate is similar to calcium malate and other calcium salts. The European Food Safety Authority has concluded that calcium citrate malate is "slightly more bioavailable" than other forms of calcium supplementation.


Cisgenesis is a product designation for a category of genetically engineered plants. A variety of classification schemes have been proposed that order genetically modified organisms based on the nature of introduced genotypical changes, rather than the process of genetic engineering.

Cisgenesis (from "same" and "beginning") is one term for organisms that have been engineered using a process in which genes are artificially transferred between organisms that could otherwise be conventionally bred. Unlike in transgenesis, genes are only transferred between closely related organisms. However, while future technologies may allow genomes to be directly edited within an individual organism, currently nucleic acid sequences must be isolated and introduced using the same technologies that are used to produce transgenic organisms. The term was first introduced in 2000 by Henk J. Schouten and Henk Jochemsen, and in 2004 a PhD thesis by Jan Schaart of Wageningen University in 2004, discussing making strawberries less susceptible to Botrytis cinerea.

In Europe, currently, this process is governed by the same laws as transgenesis but researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands feel that this should be changed and regulated in the same way as conventionally bred plants. However, other scientists, writing in Nature Biotechnology, have disagreed. In 2012 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a report with their risk assessment of cisgenic and intragenic plants. They compared the hazards associated with plants produced by cisgenesis and intragenesis with those obtained either by conventional plant breeding techniques or transgenesis. The EFSA concluded that "similar hazards can be associated with cisgenic and conventionally bred plants, while novel hazards can be associated with intragenic and transgenic plants."Cisgenesis has been applied to transfer of natural resistance genes to the devastating disease Phytophthora infestans in potato and scab (Venturia inaequalis) in apple.Cisgenesis and transgenesis use artificial gene transfer, which results in less extensive change to an organism's genome than mutagenesis, which was widely used before genetic engineering was developed.Some people believe that cisgenesis should not face as much regulatory oversight as genetic modification created through transgenesis as it is possible, if not practical, to transfer alleles among closely related species even by traditional crossing. The primary biological advantage of cisgenesis is that it does not disrupt favorable heterozygous states, particularly in asexually propagated crops such as potato, which do not breed true to seed. One application of cisgenesis is to create blight resistant potato plants by transferring known resistance loci wild genotypes into modern, high yielding varieties.The Dutch government has proposed to exclude cisgenic plants from the European GMO Regulation, in view of the safety of cisgenic plants compared to classically bred plants, and their contribution to durable food production.

Dietary Reference Intake

The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is a system of nutrition recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies (United States). It was introduced in 1997 in order to broaden the existing guidelines known as Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs, see below). The DRI values differ from those used in nutrition labeling on food and dietary supplement products in the U.S. and Canada, which uses Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs) and Daily Values (%DV) which were based on outdated RDAs from 1968 but were updated as of 2016.

Donald Broom

Donald Maurice Broom (born 14 July 1942) is an English biologist and emeritus professor of animal welfare at Cambridge University.Donald Broom attended Whitgift School and subsequently St. Catharine's College, Cambridge. He received his BA and MA degrees in zoology and Ph.D. degree in animal behaviour from Cambridge University, supervised by William Homan Thorpe. During his time as an undergraduate, he was a keen sportsman participating in squash and water-polo. He also represented the university and was nationally ranked in modern pentathlon, becoming a Blue and being elected to the Hawks' Club.

Previous academic positions include Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader at the University of Reading. Previous advisory roles include Scientific Advisor to the Council of Europe Standing Committee on the Welfare of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes (1987–2000), Chairman of the European Union Scientific Veterinary Committee (Animal Welfare Section – 1990–1997) and Member of the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council (1991–1999). He served three years as President of the St. Catharine's College, Cambridge and was elected a fellow of the Zoological Society of London in 1987. He was awarded a Sc.D. from Cambridge University in 2002. He retired as the Colleen Macleod Professor of Animal Welfare in 2009 but continues in his other roles as Vice-Chairman of European Food Safety Authority Panel on Animal Health and Welfare and Chairman of Working Group on Welfare of Animals during Land Animal Transport for the World Organization for Animal Health.

Broom is a research scientist and science populariser who has written many books and articles on ethology, animal welfare, and evolution, gives public lectures and broadcasts, as well as advising European political bodies on animal welfare science matters.

European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) is a committee of the European Parliament. It has 69 full members. Its current chair is Adina-Ioana Vălean, a Romanian member of the European People's Party.


Femarelle is a dietary supplement that is a mixture of DT56a (a tofu extract) and flaxseed powder, that may act as a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). In 2008 an application was submitted to the European Food Safety Authority to market Femarelle with a health claim, namely that it can reduce the risk for osteoporosis and other bone disorders; the EFSA found that "the food/constituent for which the claim is made, i.e. Femarelle, has not been sufficiently characterised" and that " a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of Femarelle and increased BMD, increased bone formation, or decreased risk of osteoporosis or other bone disorders in post-menopausal women."Femarelle has been tested in small clinical trials. One studied its effect on the tissue lining the vagina, another on relief of hot flashes in menopause, and another on the risk of causing blood clots, which is a risk of hormone replacement therapy. While results were promising, the studies were too small and too short in duration from which to draw conclusions.


Gelatin or gelatine (from Latin: gelatus meaning "stiff" or "frozen") is a translucent, colorless, flavorless food ingredient, derived from collagen taken from animal body parts. Brittle when dry and gummy when moist, it is also called hydrolyzed collagen, collagen hydrolysate, gelatine hydrolysate, hydrolyzed gelatine, and collagen peptides. It is commonly used as a gelling agent in food, medications, drug and vitamin capsules, photographic films and papers, and cosmetics.

Substances containing gelatin or functioning in a similar way are "gelatinous". Gelatin is an irreversibly hydrolyzed form of collagen, wherein the hydrolysis reduces protein fibrils into smaller peptides; depending on the physical and chemical methods of denaturation, the molecular weight of the peptides falls within a broad range. Gelatin is in gelatin desserts; most gummy candy and marshmallows; and some ice creams, dips, and yogurts. Gelatin for cooking comes as powder, granules, and sheets. Instant types can be added to the food as they are; others must soak in water beforehand.

Genetically modified food in Europe

Genetic engineering in Europe has varying degrees of regulation.

Health food

Health food is food marketed to provide human health effects beyond a normal healthy diet required for human nutrition. Foods marketed as health foods may be part of one or more categories, such as natural foods, organic foods, whole foods, vegetarian foods or dietary supplements. These products may be sold in health food stores or in the health food or organic sections of grocery stores.


Hydroxytyrosol is a phenylethanoid, a type of phenolic phytochemical with antioxidant properties in vitro. In nature, hydroxytyrosol is found in olive leaf and olive oil, in the form of its elenolic acid ester oleuropein and, especially after degradation, in its plain form.Hydroxytyrosol itself in pure form is a colorless, odorless liquid. The olives, leaves and olive pulp contain large amounts of hydroxytyrosol (compared to olive oil), most of which can be recovered to produce hydroxytyrosol extracts. However, it was found that black olives, such as common canned variety, containing iron(II) gluconate contained little hydroxytyrosol, as iron salts are catalysts for its oxidation.Hydroxytyrosol is mentioned by the scientific committee of the European Food Safety Authority as one of several olive oil polyphenols under preliminary research for the potential to affect blood lipid levels, although there is no evidence from high-quality clinical research to indicate that this effect exists.

Medical food

Medical foods are foods that are specially formulated and intended for the dietary management of a disease that has distinctive nutritional needs that cannot be met by normal diet alone. In the United States they were defined in the Food and Drug Administration's 1988 Orphan Drug Act Amendments and are subject to the general food and safety labeling requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. In Europe the European Food Safety Authority established definitions for "foods for special medical purposes" (FSMPs) in 2015.

Royal jelly

Royal jelly is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae, as well as adult queens. It is secreted from the glands in the hypopharynx of nurse bees, and fed to all larvae in the colony, regardless of sex or caste.When a bee hive is making new queens, the workers construct special queen cells, and the larvae in these cells are fed with copious amounts of royal jelly. This type of feeding triggers the development of queen morphology, including the fully developed ovaries needed to lay eggs.Royal jelly is widely marketed as a dietary supplement. It is an alternative medicine that falls under the category of apitherapy. Both the European Food Safety Authority and United States Food and Drug Administration have concluded that the current evidence does not support the claim of health benefits, and have actively discouraged the sale and consumption of the jelly. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has taken legal action against companies that have used unfounded claims of health benefits to market royal jelly products. There have also been documented cases of allergic reactions, namely hives, asthma, and anaphylaxis, due to consumption of royal jelly.

Scientific Committee on Food

The Scientific Committee on Food (SCF), established in 1974, was the main committee providing the European Commission with scientific advice on food safety.

Its responsibilities have been transferred to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi (original)

Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi (or Sergio Lanfranchi Stadium) was a sports stadium in the city of Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy.

The stadium was named after Sergio Lanfranchi (1925-2001), an international rugby union prop from Parma who played for Italy from 1949 to 1961 and spent most of his club career in France.It was a 3,600 seat arena which hosted Gran Parma Rugby and Rugby Parma F.C. 1931 Rugby Union teams. It also hosted the Parma Panthers American Football team. The stadium is described and referenced numerous times in the book Playing for Pizza by John Grisham.

The stadium was demolished in July 2008 because the area was chosen for the Headquarters building of the European Food Safety Authority. Since then, the teams play their home games at the Stadio XXV Aprile.

In January 2015, Stadio XXV Aprile was renamed as the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Stearidonic acid

Stearidonic acid (SDA) is an ω-3 fatty acid, sometimes called moroctic acid. It is biosynthesized from alpha-linolenic acid by the enzyme delta-6-desaturase. Natural sources of this fatty acid are the seed oils of hemp, blackcurrant, corn gromwell, and Echium plantagineum, and the cyanobacterium Spirulina. SDA can also be synthesized in a lab. A GMO soybean source is approved by the European Food Safety Authority.


Yarrowia is a fungal genus in the family Dipodascaceae. For a while the genus was monotypic, containing the single species Yarrowia lipolytica, a yeast that can use unusual carbon sources, such as hydrocarbons. This has made it of interest for use in industrial microbiology, especially for the production of specialty lipids. Molecular phylogenetics analysis has revealed several other species that have since been added to the genus.In January 2019, Yarrowia lipolytica yeast biomass was defined by the European Food Safety Authority as a safe novel food – dried and heat‐killed – with the underlying qualifications that it is widespread in nature, present in the typical environment, may be used as food for people over age 3 (3 grams per day for children under age 10, and 6 grams per day for teens and adults), and may be manufactured as a dietary supplement.

Adulterants, food contaminants
Parasitic infections through food
Sugar substitutes
Toxins, poisons, environment pollution
Food contamination incidents
Regulation, standards, watchdogs

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