The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) is responsible for carrying out diverse tasks related to public health and food safety. Fully owned by both the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, the Environment, and Water Management, AGES carries out research, analyses, and inspections in accordance with the provisions of Austrian and EU legislation. The main areas of responsibility of AGES are the prevention and control of diseases in plants, animals, and humans. Also, as an authority the agency is responsible for licensing medicinal products, medical devices, seeds, or pesticides.
In 2002, 18 federal institutes from the areas of food control, public health, veterinary medicine, and agriculture were combined into one organisation, i.e., the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, or AGES. As a result, all of the federal competencies related to ensuring the health of the Austrian population and the safety of food along the entire food chain were brought together under one roof.
What is new about this approach to ensuring public health and food safety in Austria is that it enables us to take a holistic view on plant, animal, and human health. Before the creation of AGES, the activities in the areas of agriculture, food, veterinary and human medicine were strictly separate. Owing to the reorganization, AGES experts are now in a position to work in an interdisciplinary manner. The findings collected by AGES cover the entire production cycle from the soil—the starting point of any food chain—to the human organism, where the effects of ingested foods become apparent.
In fulfilling their responsibilities, AGES experts are supported by Competence Centres, whose services are available to all AGES departments and institutes. Every year, the AGES Competence Centres carry out some 900,000 sample analyses and 7.2 million tests.
Meeting the highest quality standards, all AGES laboratories are fully certified and accredited.