EFSA is a European agency funded by the European Union that operates independently of the European legislative and executive institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament) and EU Member States.
It was set up in 2002 following a series of food crises in the late 1990s to be a source of scientific advice and communication on risks associated with the food chain. The agency was legally established by the EU under the General Food Law – Regulation 178/2002.
The General Food Law created a European food safety system in which responsibility for risk assessment (science) and for risk management (policy) are kept separate. EFSA is responsible for the former area, and also has a duty to communicate its scientific findings to the public.