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The BfR-Commissions

14 BfR Commissions acting as honorary and independent expert bodies advise the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in the field of food, feed, chemical and product safety. These commissions pool the existing expertise in Germany at the highest scientific level. With their scientific expertise, they also serve as an expert network that is on hand to advise the Institute in times of crisis.

The BfR Commissions usually convene twice a year. Each commission comprises at least ten experts who are appointed for a period of four years following an open invitation and application process. Commission members are under an obligation to maintain confidentiality vis-à-vis third parties and to perform their duties in an impartial manner. Any conflicts of interest relating to any items dealt with at the meeting are transparently identified and disclosed. The minutes outline the scientific opinion of the BfR Commission in question. The recommendations of the BfR Commissions are solely of an advisory nature. The BfR Commissions themselves do not issue any directives or publish any expert opinions. They are not authorised to issue instructions to the BfR, nor are they subject to the instructions of the BfR or involved in their risk assessments.

The fifth appointment period of the BfR Commissions started in January 2012. A total of 191 people were appointed as experts for the period from 2022 to 2025 by the appointing panel set up specifically for this purpose following a public call for applications and a selection process.

BfR Commissions

Other expert commissions

Both the BfR Commission for Pharmacologically Active Substances and Veterinary Medicinal Products and the BfR Commission for Food Additives, Flavourings and Processing Aids were not reappointed for the time being in the appointment period of 2022-2025 due to the BfR's reduced need for advice on this topic.

The National Breastfeeding Commission was attached to the BfR until 31 March 2019. From 1 April 2019 onward, the National Breastfeeding Commission will be affiliated with the Max Rubner Institute (MRI).

Appointment process

Five appointment procedures (2007, 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2021) have been carried out since the BfR Commissions were first established. In order to ensure that the appointment procedure is transparent, a public call is issued to apply to serve as an expert on a BfR Commission. Suitable experts are then selected by an appointing panel set up specifically for this purpose. The appointing panel is made up of the members of the Scientific Advisory Board of the BfR, the Chairpersons of the Senate Commissions for the Health Assessment of Foods and the Max Rubner Institute (MRI), and representatives of the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

The appointing panel named a total of 191 experts as BfR Commissione members for the period 2022 to 2025. They come from universities and other research institutions, national and federal state (Länder) authorities, trade and consumer associations, industrial companies and non-governmental organisations. Overall, 56% of the experts come from universities, 27% from authorities such as the federal research institutions and regional Land investigation offices, 16% from companies and industrial associations, and 2% from non-governmental organisations. 94% of commission members are of German nationality, while 6% are non-Germans. 44% of commissionf members are women, 56% are men.

Most of the commission members have a post-graduate university degree and many years of professional experience in the relevant fields of science. 31% are below the age of 50; the majority (69%) are older. Selection was made under consideration of the principle of equal treatment of women and men. The list of members of the BfR Commissions can be viewed on the BfR website.

Independence and transparency

The experts appointed to the BfR Commissions undertake to provide impartial advice to the BfR. To this end, the members sign a corresponding declaration of voluntary commitment which is published on the internet. The details provided in the declarations constitute self-disclosure, and the commission members are responsible for the content of the declarations. At the start of each commission meeting, the members are polled verbally and in writing about current topics which could conflict with their own interests. The results are recorded in the minutes.

The minutes of the meetings detailing the outcome of the deliberations of the BfR Commission in question can be viewed on the BfR website. The recommendations of the commissions are solely of an advisory nature; the commissions are not involved in the statutory tasks of the BfR (such as risk assessment).

Exchange with national and international bodies

The opinions published by the BfR ensure that the consolidated expertise of the BfR Commissions can also be shared with national and international bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).


BfR reports to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)


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