The Economic and Social Committee (ESC), in its Session of October 1991, adopted an opinion on the proposal for a Council Directive on assistance to the Commission and cooperation by the Member States in the scientific examination of questions relating to food. Given that the Commission's proposal would harness the considerable expertise and specialization that exists in the Member States, the Committee very much approves such cost effective action. It points out that the Scientific Committee for Food (SCF) must continue to be composed of eminent scientists including medical people, who must be totally independent, and that its range of competence must be expanded to cover the new areas of activity (nutrition, microbiology, novel foods etc.). Transparency and involvement of the public should be improved. The proposed method of operating the system, which features only in an introductory memorandum, should be set forth in an annex as part of the actual proposal. The Committee notes that national scientific departments, fully loaded with national work, may find difficulty in giving sufficient priority to Commission work, and that some of the smaller and poorer Members States often have limited scientific facilities. The Commission should therefore examine how financial help can be organized to make up these deficiencies.