The management board of the new European food safety authority (EFSA) were told that they 'have the opportunity to start building a flagship organisation, pre-eminent in the world on food safety matters, recognised for its scientific excellence, its openness, and trusted for its integrity,' when they held their inaugural meeting in Brussels on 18 September. The statement came from EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, David Byrne. The Commissioner said that such a centralised food safety authority is necessary on account of the increasing complexity and sophistication of science and legislation and the increasing diversity of our food supply. 'It was clear that the mechanisms of the past could no longer satisfy the needs of the present and those of the future,' he said. The new institution will provide scientific advice which will underpin new legislation relating to food. 'The quality and accessibility of scientific advice is of paramount importance to ensure effective, timely and appropriate decision-making. [...] The authority has been created with the aim of enhancing the level and integrity of the scientific constituent of regulation, 'said the Commissioner. Mr Byrne also highlighted the importance of the EFSA's independence: 'The authority's independence will ensure that scientific risk assessment work is not swayed by policy or other external considerations. This is designed to guarantee its impartiality and objectivity.' This independence, along with the institution's scientific excellence, will also put an end to competition among national authorities within Member States, said Mr Byrne. The first task of the management board is to elect an EFSA executive director. Once this has been done, the advisory forum and the scientific committee will be formed.