EU passes laws to set up new food safety body
"Today is a great day of achievement for food safety in the EU, and a showcase for the effectiveness of European institutions when it comes to solving problems close to the hearts and minds of EU citizens," EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said in a statement.
Under a deal brokered at a summit of EU leaders in December last year, the new authority will be temporarily located in Brussels, and the Commission said the search was now on for a management board and executive director.
The main tasks of the body, which will employ up to 250 people with budget of 40 million euros, will be to provide scientific advice to policy makers and give the public information on potential risks in the food chain.
It will also operate the rapid alert system, collecting information on possible food risks from national authorities.
The system will be extended from food to cover animal feed - currently at the centre of a scare in the Netherlands and Germany over contamination with chloramphenicol, an antibiotic that can cause a potentially lethal form of anaemia.
A permanent seat for the new agency has yet to be decided. Finland, Italy, Spain and France have all offered to host the EFSA but EU leaders have so far failed to resolve the issue, which has become politically very sensitive.