Scientists recommend an EU authority to advise on food safety

A report presented to the EU commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection has concluded that an independent scientific authority should be created to advise on risks posed to human by food and non-food products.

Three members of the EU’s Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) have published their opinions in A European Food and Public Health Authority: The future of scientific advice in the EU. If accepted, the recommendation to establish an independent food and public health authority, would represent a radical change in the way the EU receives scientific advice on food safety and how it conducts research.

The authors suggest that the food and public health authority should be responsible for:

  • the provision of scientific advice on all health issues (food, non food products, environment, public health) excluding drugs and veterinary drugs approvals currently handled by the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products
  • the development of an effective system for monitoring European public health
  • analysis of policy in terms of risk evaluation
  • development of policy research with the Directorate-General for Research and the Joint Research Centre in order to create a coherent research programme – to be undertaken at European and not member state level – on public health and food safety
  • information and communication on health issues
  • contribution to crisis management at a European level

The report concludes that “continuing challenges [to public health from food and non-food products] are likely to increase as the Community expands” and that “the proposals are set out in the expectation that their implementation would greatly enhance the credibility of the Commission, allow a framework to be developed for coping with EU enlargement and, it is hoped, bring clear benefits to the citizens of Europe”.

The authors of I>A European Food and Public Health Authorityare:

  • Professor Gérard Pascal, current chair of the SSC and a former chairman of the European Scientific Committee for Food. He is also President of the scientific council of the new Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments
  • Professor W Philip T James, advised the UK government on the establishment of the UK Food Standards Agency and was the author of the 1999 UN Report on Food and Global Health in the next Millennium. He is currently chair of the International Obesity Task Force.
  • Professor Fritz H Kemper, chair of the Scientific Committee for Cosmetic and Non-Food Products of the EU. He was Director of the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology in Münster from 1970 to1993

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