EFSA executive director pledges nutrition priority

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Efsa, European union

Nutrition has been identified as one of the six priorities of new
EFSA executive director Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, as Europe
prepares for forthcoming legislation on health claims and
fortification that the agency looks likely to play a role in
implementing.

Geslain-Lanéelle picked up the reigns of the European Food Standards Authority yesterday and will serve a five-year term. She will be guided in her work by the EFSA management board.

Indeed, her manifesto follows the announcement two weeks ago that the board had decided to step up its activities in the areas of health and nutrition, based on recommendations from a public consultation held earlier this year.

EFSA has eight panels dealing with different aspects of food safety, of which one is dedicated to nutrition including trans fatty acids, upper intake levels of vitamins and minerals, novel foods and allergenic foods labelling.

"It is clear that the changing political and policy environment places a greater emphasis on the relation between diet, nutrition and health,"​ the board said.

"The board recommends that EFSA clarifies its role in the area of nutrition and health taking into account the changing legislative framework on nutrition, health claims and the growing public interest and political debate on these matters."

One likely source of work in the nutrition area is over health claims and food fortification, hotly-debated pieces recently passed by the European parliament and likely to come into effect in late 2006/early 2007.

In its current form, the result of a compromise between the European parliament and council, the legislation draws upon EFSA to assess health and disease prevention claims submitted after an initial positive list has been drawn up. Following assessment, approval will be down to the European Commission.

A maximum time frame for EFSA's review of health claim dossiers will be imposed.

"EFSA has started to take steps to ensure that it is prepared for these tasks when the regulation comes into force whole maintaining dialogue with the legislative institutions on the feasibility of any new tasks,"​ a spokesperson for the agency told NutraIngredients.com in March.

EFSA said it would take into consideration the views of the European Commission, the Council and European Parliament as well as others to develop its policy and long-term strategy in nutrition and health.

However there have been concerns about the agency's funding this year, after the EU Council proposed capping the budget for the 3B heading, under which EFSA falls, until 2013.

It is not known whether further funding will be forthcoming to facilitate EFSA's increasing health and nutrition workload.

Besides developing EFSA's role in nutrition, Geslain-Lanéelle identified her other priorities as: develop active networking and stronger cooperation with member states; strengthen EFSA's relationship with its institutional partners and stakeholders; enhance EFSA's organisation; enhance the impact and effectiveness of its communications; and define the agencies medium and long-term vision.

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