EU food body hires nutrition expert for PR role

Brussels: The body set up to restore Europeans’ confidence in food safety has drafted in a former Kellogg director of nutrition affairs Anne-Laure Gassin as its first head of PR.

Gassin will join the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as director of communications in October.

The EFSA, which became operational in May 2003, was set up following health scares such as outbreaks of mad cow disease and foot-and-mouth among livestock and the discovery of dioxin-tainted food.

Gassin joins from a policy role at the European Commission, where she had responsibility for preparing the future revision of EC legislation on the nutrition labelling of food.

Prior to the EC, Gassin worked at Kellogg, where her last position was director of nutrition affairs (Europe).

At the EFSA, she will head a communications team that is currently two-strong, made up of PROs Andy Stimpson and Helen Kinghan.

EFSA executive director Geoffrey Podger has pledged ‘to improve the scientific approach to risk assessment and communicate the results effectively’ in order to ‘renew’ consumers’ confidence in food safety.

Podger, who was formerly chief executive officer of the UK’s Food Standards Agency, joined in February and is building a team that is expected to grow from its current 50 staff to around 250 by the end of 2005.

It is understood that the possibility of drafting in PR agencies to handle EFSA campaigns will be considered once Gassin has joined.

The body will examine food risks from farm to store counter and will support both the EC and member states on issues including the management of future international food crises.

The EFSA is currently based in Brussels, but cities including Helsinki in Finland, and Parma in Italy, are lobbying for its headquarters to be relocated.

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