EFSA role vindicated by auditor

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

EFSA role vindicated by auditor
Successful provision of risk assessment in the food and feed industries after a decade has proven the usefulness of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), said Ernst & Young.

According to the independent auditors, EFSA has demonstrated its “value as the cornerstone of risk assessment for food and feed in the EU”.

A recommendation to enhance transparency in some decision-making processes, as well as to build better links with member states were, however, highlighted as something the authority could improve on.

Executive director at EFSA Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle explained that the evaluation had underlined how EFSA operates and complimented the quality of the organisation’s scientific opinions and risk assessment methodologies. Some of EFSA’s core values, she said, were “openness, transparency and independence”​, which the authority has built itself on.  

The report praised the authority for its ability to accomplish its jobs, despite working in an ever-increasing and demanding environment. Core goals, such as providing partners and stakeholders with technological and scientific support, were also highlighted as being reached. Ernst & Young  also commended EFSA on the fundamental goal of communicating risk.

The report said: “EFSA has succeeded in building awareness, trust and reputation for the overall food safety system and for itself, contributing to the harmonisation and coherence in risk communication.”

Robust systems

Criticisms of the authority have been alleviated by the report, which said no structures, governance and procedures needed to be changed. Ernst & Young considered EFSA to be operating with a “satisfying infrastructure”​ that could not be compared to other agencies.

Vice-chair of the EFSA management board and chair of external evaluation steering committee Sue Davies said: “The final report, published today, shows that, 10 years on since it was established, EFSA is functioning well and fulfilling its mission to provide high-quality risk assessments that serve as the basis for science-based EU regulation throughout the food chain.

“It praises EFSA for having one of the most advanced and robust systems for ensuring its independence and for the high level of openness and transparency that now go far beyond the requirements of the founding regulation.”

The praise, Davies said, does not mean the authority can now be complacent and the areas of improvement highlighted by the report should be noted and improved on. She said: “I am sure of the commitment within EFSA to progress the outstanding issues raised in the coming months. The management board will be reviewing the evaluation report and agreeing the best way to take the recommendations forward at its next meeting in October.”