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Two months after EU ministers agreed on the revision of the food law, last April the European Parliament endorsed revisions put forward by the European Commission for an updated EU General Food Law. The process was launched in 2017 with a legislative fitness check, which paved the way for the subsequent Commission proposal.

Proposals aimed at increasing transparency of the European Food Safety Agency

From the outset, the proposals aimed at an extensive reform of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), an EU regulatory agency that has since long been considered as rather opaque in its internal procedures, including food risk assessments.

However, this has had a negative impact on EFSA’s perceived independence and acceptability by citizens and civil society, which has jeopardised the validity of its scientific work.

Provisions under the new governing laws for EFSA’s work include:

  • Consultations of stakeholders and of the general public to ensure EFSA's access to existing evidence in the context of its risk assessment
  • Fact-finding missions by the European Commission to ensure the compliance of laboratories/studies with standards
  • An obligation to publish the applications received for the market authorisations of new foods, together with all the data and studies provided to support these applications
  • The nomination of Member States representatives in the EFSA Management Board, ensuring greater participation and scientific cooperation

Meanwhile, these measures are expected to be accompanied by adequate resources, as envisaged in the proposal, to allow EFSA to implement them.

The new EU General Food Law is expected to apply by 2021.

As EFSA official stakeholders, we welcome this political development and willingness for transparency as a very positive and healthy step on the regulatory process of food. We are also expecting to be able to be more proactive with the work of this agency given now their future openness towards public information and consultation. Especially, in light of more scientific evidence on new allergens and novel foods, allergen management and information and food safety.