European Union agriculture ministers have given the go-ahead for the creation of a Union-wide food safety agency, but the exact location of the body has yet to be decided.
There has never been a more urgent need for the European Food Safety Authority, following the plethora of food-related scares such as BSE and foot-and-mouth disease in cattle and dioxin-contaminated chicken.
The watchdog will not only set food safety standards across the European Union but it will also be responsible for ensuring that they are implemented in the field.
EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne welcomed yesterday's agreement to create the agency. "Now that we have a new and independent European Food Safety Authority we want to see it up and running within the shortest possible time," he said in a statement.
But there is still some debate over where the agency will be based. It will initially be headquartered in Brussels after EU leaders failed to agree on a home for the unit at a meeting last December.
Helsinki is the favoured location of most EU leaders, but Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi vetoed the choice of the Finnish capital, insisting on Parma.