Thursday, March 16, 2006

Stakeholders want EFSA to play greater role in nutrition

Stakeholders want EFSA to play greater role in nutrition: "The Parliament is rooting for a notification procedure, which would allow manufacturers to put a product on the market with a specific health claim without receiving authorization in advance. If doubts were raised over scientific basis on the claim, EFSA would then be called on to make a decision. However the Council favours full pre-market approval, which it is expected would be evaluated by EFSA.

Other tasks it is expected EFSA would fulfill, according to the 2006 Management Plan that was approved by the board in December 2005, are: providing guidance and advice on nutrient profiles for foods bearing claims; providing guidance and advice on permitted claims; and developing guidelines for the implementation of preparation and presentation of information necessary to support health claims.

However the stakeholders' opinion comes at a time when the budgetary climate is far from ideal: at the end of January EFSA revealed that it could be facing a funding crisis, after the EU Council proposed capping the budget for the 3B heading, under which EFSA falls, at €220 million for the period 2007 to 2013.

The annual budget for 3B was €220 million in 2006 (of which €46.6 million was allocated to EFSA). It was originally forecast that this would increase over time, to €290 million in 2013.

Meanwhile, these funding issues were also discussed at the consultative platform last week, with the consensus that if its budget is cut EFSA will not be able to carry out all the tasks with which it is charged and will therefore have to prioritise."


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