Members of the European Parliament have proposed changing the name of the nascent European Food Authority, to make it a European Food Safety Authority. The proposal is one of 200 amendments agreed by the parliament’s environment committee for approval by a later plenary session. An important focus of these changes is the division of responsibilities between the European Commission and the authority, with MEPs seeking greater clarity between their respective roles. The committee called for risk assessment to be the authority’s duty and risk management “the province of the Commission,” for instance.

There is also a potential political conflict over the proposed Rapid Alert System for food and animal feed, which is to be used for example in cases of contamination or illegal movement of these products. MEPs think that its management should be given to the Commission, while Brussels wants the authority to pick up these responsibilities.

The committee also agreed guidelines on the authority’s future home, saying the location should have “a long-standing tradition in food safety, enhance its independence and integrity, provide a good scientific infrastructure and facilities in the field of food safety and also be easily accessible.”

Regarding the authority’s role, the committee said that it should include animal welfare, plant health, nutrition, genetically modified organisms and food labelling.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent