Chemical substances play a major role in the production and distribution of
food. Improvements to harvests and livestock production from phytosanitary
products and medicinal products for veterinary use, respectively should be
highlighted. This helps to reduce production costs and consequently lower the
retail price to the consumer of the food. Food additives, for which the
deliberate addition to food products has a technological purpose, help to
improve the appearance of the food as it is put onto the market. In addition,
materials such as plastics, paper, cardboard, etc. are used to keep food in
optimum hygienic conditions and to permit its distribution as well as improving
Nevertheless, the use of these materials results in the presence of chemical
substances in the food, representing a potential risk which must be efficiently
analysed, in order to offer the consumers guarantees that the food is safe.
The presence of chemical substances in food may also be of unintentional
origin, produced by environmental contamination (air, water or soil) or by
regular culinary practices (barbecues, fried foods, etc.), the risks of which
must be also analysed.
helpdesk – support for
scientific evaluation of regulated products and claims
A growing part of EFSA’s (European Food Safety Authority) work relates to
the assessment of claims submitted in the European Union, to establish the
harmlessness of substances, products, processes, etc. before they can be
permitted for use in food and feed on the EU market.
It should be noted that EFSA does not grant market authorisation, but
provides independent scientific advice and a solid scientific foundation to
underpin the market authorisation decisions taken by Member States and the
Work in this area is carried out by the EFSA’s independent Scientific Panels
and by the scientific staff working at the EFSA’s scientific units. Within
EFSA’s organisational structure, most of these units are grouped under the
Scientific Evaluation of Regulated Products (REPRO) Directorate.
EFSA’s Applications Helpdesk forms part of this Directorate (REPRO), and
acts as a front office and support desk for applicants, Member States and other
stakeholders who have questions regarding the EFSA application procedures. The
service is also responsible for centralising and processing the initial
administrative steps of all applications (including reception, registration and
verifying the basic scientific and administrative completeness of the
information in the submitted application). It is therefore essential to allow
staff in the remaining EFSA assessment units to concentrate on the purely
scientific aspects of the applications leading towards the publication of the
scientific risk assessment for the substance, process or claim.