Brussels has finally given the green light for the establishment of a European Food Safety Authority it claims will restore confidence in a food chain rocked by a series of food safety crises over the last decade. The European equivalent to the powerful US Food and Drug Administration, the authority will ensure a more co-ordinated approach to food safety issues across Europe and help member states develop contingency plans to tackle issues like BSE before they spiral out of control. EU health and consumer protection commissioner David Byrne said the establishment of the EFSA, along with the introduction of a new general framework for EU food law, was an intrinsic part of a more coherent approach to food safety in Europe. Food and Drink Federation director of scientific and regulatory affairs John Wood said he was confident the EFSA would be up and running by the end of the year. An executive director, a 15-strong management board and a series of scientific advisory committees will be appointed shortly. At least four members of the board will be from the processing and manufacturing sector. Until political agreement is reached over an appropriate location, the embryonic authority will operate from Commission buildings in Brussels. Current options include Helsinki, Barcelona, Parma and Lile. "My personal feeling is that the authority ought to be physically close to the commission," said Wood. "FDF is particularly pleased that the word safety' appears in the agency's title," he added. "It is vital that food safety is the agency's number one priority." A key responsibility of the EFSA will be to assess emerging risks and develop contingency plans as well as take charge in a crisis, said Wood. "It can then make recommendations to the commission, which is in a position to legislate." {{NEWS }}