Formal proposals by the European Commission yesterday (Wednesday) to set up a European Food Authority (EFA) were warmly welcomed by the food industry.

The Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the European Union (CIAA) said "the intentions of the Commission generally respond to the expectations of European food industrialists."

Brussels said the EFA was the centrepiece of its strategy for a "proactive food policy covering the entire food chain, from the farm to the fork" with the primary objective of assuring "a high level of protection of human life whilst ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market."

The Commission said the EFA was eventually expected to have a staff of 330 and a budget of some £24m. The CIAA said it "particularly
welcomed" the Commission's emphasis on safety which, it said, "must contribute to restoring consumer confidence in food."

The EFA was "essential" and should lead to the better and faster formulation of scientific opinions. "Its role in analysing and managing crises is likewise welcome," said the CIAA, which added that the creation of a unit specifically responsible for managing crises, "shows significant progress in the Commission's approach." The Confederation is to issue detailed comments on all aspects of the proposal over the next weeks.

By Alan Osborn