Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Official Journal Reference

L 31/ of 2002-01-02

Legislative Reference

178/2002/EC of 2002-01-28
The primary responsibility of the Authority will be to provide independent scientific advice on all matters with a direct or indirect impact on food safety. This Authority also provides the basis for the assurance of a high level of protection of human health and consumers' interest in relation to food, taking into account in particular the diversity in the supply of food including traditional products, whilst ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market. down the general principles governing food and feed in general, and food and feed safety in particular, at Community and national level.


The Authority has been given a wide brief, so that it can cover all stages of food production and supply, from primary production to the safety of animal feed, right through to the supply of food to consumers. It establishes common principles and responsibilities, the means to provide a strong science base, efficient organizational arrangements and procedures to underpin decision-making in matters of food and feed safety. It will gather information from all parts of the globe, keeping an eye on new developments in science. It will share its findings and listen to the views of others through a vast network that will be developed over time, as well as interacting with experts and decision-makers on many levels. A key task of the Authority will be to communicate directly with the public on its areas of responsibility.

Although the Authority's main "customer" will be the Commission, it will be open to respond to scientific questions from the European Parliament and the Member States and it can also initiate risk assessments on its own behalf. The Authority will carry out assessments of risks to the food chain and indeed can carry out scientific assessment on any matter that may have a direct or indirect effect on the safety of the food supply, including matters relating to animal health, animal welfare and plant health. The Authority will also give scientific advice on non-food and feed GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), and on nutrition in relation to Community legislation.

The Authority shall be open to the participation of countries which have concluded agreements with the European Community by virtue of which they have adopted and apply Community legislation in the field covered by this Authority. Arrangements shall be made under the relevant provisions of those agreements, specifying in particular the nature, extent and manner in which these countries will participate in the Authority's work, including provisions relating to participation in the networks operated by the Authority, inclusion in the list of competent organisations to which certain tasks may be entrusted by the Authority, financial contributions and staff.

For the purposes of this Regulation, 'food' (or 'foodstuff') means any substance or product, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, intended to be, or reasonably expected to be ingested by humans. 'Food' includes drink, chewing gum and any substance, including water, intentionally incorporated into the food during its manufacture, preparation or treatment. 'Feed' (or 'feedingstuff') means any substance or product, including additives, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, intended to be used for oral feeding to animals.


_ Scientific opinions
The Authority shall issue a scientific opinion:
- At the request of the Commission, in respect of any matter within its mission, and in all cases where Community legislation makes provision for the Authority to be consulted;
- On its own initiative, on matters falling within its mission.
The European Parliament or a Member State may request the Authority to issue a scientific opinion on matters falling within its mission.
_ Diverging scientific opinions
The Authority shall exercise vigilance in order to identify at an early stage any potential source of divergence between its scientific opinions and the scientific opinions issued by other bodies carrying out similar tasks.
_ Scientific and technical assistance
The Authority may be requested by the Commission to provide scientific or technical assistance in any field within its mission.
_ Scientific studies
Using the best independent scientific resources available, the Authority shall commission scientific studies necessary for the performance of its mission.
_ Collection of data
The Authority shall search for, collect, collate, analyse and summarise relevant scientific and technical data in the fields within its mission.
_ Identification of emerging risks
The Authority shall establish monitoring procedures for systematically searching for, collecting, collating and analyzing information and data with a view to the identification of emerging risks in the fields within its mission.
_ Rapid alert system
To enable it to perform its task of monitoring the health and nutritional risks of foods as effectively as possible, the Authority shall be the recipient of any messages forwarded via the rapid alert system. It shall analyse the content of such messages with a view to providing the Commission and the Member States with any information required for the purposes of risk analysis.
_ Networking of organisations operating in the fields within the Authority's mission
- The Authority shall promote the European networking of organizations. The aim of such networking is, in particular, to facilitate a scientific cooperation framework by the coordination of activities, the exchange of information, the development and implementation of joint projects, the exchange of expertise and best practices in the fields within the Authority's mission.

_ Independence
The members of the Management Board, the members of the Advisory Forum and the Executive Director shall undertake to act independently in the public interest. The members of the Scientific Committee and the Scientific Panels shall undertake to act independently of any external influence. _ Transparency
The Authority shall ensure that it carries out its activities with a high level of transparency. It shall in particular make public without delay:
- agendas and minutes of the Scientific Committee and the Scientific Panels;
- opinions of the Scientific Committee and the Scientific Panels immediately after adoption, minority opinions always being included;
- the information on which its opinions are based;
- the annual declarations of interest made by members of the Management Board, the Executive Director, members of the Advisory Forum and members of the Scientific Committee and Scientific Panels;
_ Confidentiality
The Authority shall not divulge to third parties confidential information that it receives for which confidential treatment has been requested and justified, except for information which must be made public if circumstances so require, in order to protect public health.
_ Communications from the Authority
The Authority shall communicate on its own initiative in the fields within its mission without prejudice to the Commission's competence to communicate its risk management decisions.
_ Access to documents
The Authority shall ensure wide access to the documents which it possesses.
_ Consumers, producers and other interested parties
The Authority shall develop effective contacts with consumer representatives, producer representatives, processors and any other interested parties.


The Authority shall comprise:
- A Management Board;
- An Executive Director and his staff;
- An Advisory Forum;
- A Scientific Committee and Scientific Panels.

_ Management Board
- Composed of 14 members appointed by the Council in consultation with the European Parliament from a list drawn up by the Commission.
- 4 years term of office, renewed one BUT for first mandate this period shall be six years for half of the members.
- Adopt the Authority's internal rules on the basis of a proposal by the Executive Director. These rules are made public.
- One of its members is elected as Chair for a 2 year period. The board shall meet at the invitation of the Chair or at the request of at least a third of its members.
- The board shall ensure that the Authority carries out its mission and performs the tasks assigned to it.
- The board shall adopt the Authority's workprogramme each year and the general report on the previous years activities and the financial regulation.
- Executive Director takes part in Management board meetings but has no voting rights.

_ Executive Director and his staff
- Executive Director is appointed by the Management Board, on the basis of a list of candidates proposed by the Commission after an open competition.
- Legal representative of the Authority and responsible for:
. day-to-day administration of the Authority;
. drawing up a proposal for the Authority's work programmes;
. implementing the work programmes and the decisions of the Management Board;
. ensuring sufficient support for the Scientific Committee and the Scientific Panels;
. ensuring that the Authority carries out its tasks
. the preparation of the statement of revenue and expenditure
. all staff matters;
. developing and maintaining contact with the European Parliament;
- Each year, he/she shall submit to the Management Board for approval:
. draft general report covering all the activities of the Authority in the previous year;
. draft programmes of work;
. draft annual accounts for the previous year;
. draft budget for the coming year.
- Approve all financial expenditure of the Authority and report on the Authority's activities to the Management Board.

_ Advisory Forum;
- Composed of representatives from competent bodies in the Member States.
- May not also be members of the Management Board.
- Advises the Executive Director in the performance of his duties.
- Mechanism for an exchange of information and close cooperation with Member States on:
. avoidance of duplication.L% . promoting of the European networking of organizations.
. where the Authority or a Member State identifies an emerging risk.
- Chaired by the Executive Director.
- Provide the technical and logistic support necessary for the Advisory Forum.

_ Scientific Committee and Scientific Panels
- Responsible for providing the scientific opinions of the Authority.
- General coordination necessary to ensure the consistency of the scientific opinion procedure.
- Set up working groups where necessary.
- Composed of independent scientific experts.
- 8 Scientific Panels initially set up once the Authority is established.
- Number and names of the Scientific Panels may be adapted in the light of technical and scientific development.
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