EFSA seeks experts for two new panels

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food contact materials, Flavor, Food science

The European Food Safety Authority has started seeking experts to
sit on its two new panels on food additives, flavourings,
processing aids and food contact materials, following the decision
to split the existing Additives and Food Contact
Materials panel in two.

EFSA's management board proposed the split in September 2007, and the go-ahead to modify the authority's founding regulation was given by the standing committee on food chain and animal health in December. The move, which EFSA said is "in order to increase further EFSA's pool of expertise and to accelerate processes in a field where output is particularly high",​ is a clear signal of the volume of work EFSA expects to receive on both food additives and contact materials. Already the AFC panel, with its wide mandate, is charged with answering almost half of all the requests for scientific advice received by the agency - and work in this area is set to increase. For instance, EFSA has the job of drawing up the positive list of established nutrition and health claims under the new regulation, and assessing dossiers submitted by companies. The new Food Improvement Agent Package (FIAP) regulation covering additives, enzymes, flavourings and ingredients with flavouring properties, will also increase EFSA's work load; as will new regulations on active and intelligent food packaging and recycling of plastic food contact materials are also When EFSA receives request for scientific opinions, it often has to deliver these under quite tight deadlines. For instance, with the health claims submissions, it will have just five months to deliver a response - a time frame it has expressed concern over if it receives a big batch all in one go. In fact, the authority has been outsourcing some of the early stage work in its reviews, in order to speed up processes. For instance, the AFC panel's working group on additives introduced a preliminary step to the current reassessment of previously approved food colours, to determine whether a full or a partial re-evaluation is required. This information-gathering step has been out-sourced to RIVM in Holland. The two new panels, which are expected to be up and running by the middle of this year and should have equal work loads, are to be named: the panel on food additives and nutrient sources added to food (ANS); and the panel on food contact materials, enzymes, flavourings and processing aids (CEF). ​ Both panels will have a maximum of 21 members, drawn from all relevant fields, including toxicology and risk assessment, food consumption and exposure assessment, food technology and microbiology. The authority is accepting applications until February 15.

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