Spotlight on… European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

01 December 2016 View Article Podcasts

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was set up in 2002 by the European Commission (EC) as an independent authority, in response to a series of food scares, to ensure a high level of consumer protection and help to strengthen confidence in the European Union (EU) food supply. The remit of the organisation covers the safety of human food and animal feed, nutrition, animal health and welfare, plant protection and plant health.

EFSA complements the regulatory role of the EC, and the policing role of Member States, by providing independent risk assessment and communication on food safety and nutrition matters. This work can be in response to a request from the EC, the European Parliament or a Member State, or can be initiated by EFSA itself. All advice is publicly available.

EFSA has 10 Scientific Panels and an overarching Scientific Committee, comprising independent experts mainly from across the EU. The Panels cover topics such as animal health, food additives, toxicology, genetically-modified organisms, plant health, nutrition and allergies.

A key development in nutrition is the regulation on Nutrition & Health Claims which involves the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies.

On the topic of safety, a key evelopment is reassessment of the regime to prevent BSE in cattle, which has implications for the meat industry. The Biological Hazards Panel has been involved in assessing the potential risk to human health as a result of these changes in practice.

At the 2008 edition of the EuroScience Open Forum, Executive Director of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle kindly took some time out to explain to EUFIC the agency’s current projects and the state of food safety in Europe. Click on the "Play Now" button to listen to the podcast interview.

About Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle has been EFSA’s Executive Director since July 2006 and was previously one of the two Vice-Chairs of EFSA's Management Board from 2002.

Throughout her career, Ms Geslain-Lanéelle has held several positions of responsibility within the food sector. In 2000, she was appointed Director General of the Food Department within the French Agricultural Ministry at the height of the BSE crisis in France. In this post, she was responsible for managing health risks related to food, animal health and welfare, and plant protection as well as risk communications.

Ms Geslain-Lanéelle remained in this post until April 2003 when she became Regional Director of Agriculture and Forestry for the Ile de France region.

She has held a number of international positions, notably as Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Committee on General Principles in 2001 and 2002, as well as Deputy Director of the French Department of International Trade from 1998 to 2000, managing French food aid. Here she worked closely with the European Commission and several other international organisations, working to promote the European agricultural model.

She also worked at the European Commission from 1991 to 1993 as a National Expert at DG III (DG Industry and Internal Market) in the area of food safety.

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle has a Master of Science from the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon and from the Ecole Nationale du Génie Rural, des Eaux et des Forêts.


Full podcast:

Chapters : Intro

Chapters : Presentation of EFSA

Chapters : Risk Communication and consumers'

Chapters : Nutrient profiling process - the role of EFSA

Chapters : EFSA and international cooperation with health authorities