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This article analyses the rationale and the main results achieved by the European reform of food safety policy at the beginning of XXI century. The crisis of "mad cow disease" marked a paradigm shift in regulation: from the centrality of food producers to the centrality of consumers in the regulative governance. Two have been the strategic goals promoted by the European Commission and the European Parliament: a) the strengthening, throughout the role of a new European agency (EFSA), of the state members' risk assessment, risk communication and risk management programs; b) the increasing of consumers' confidence in the institutions of food safety regulation. The first section deals with the complexity of food safety governance in a global and European perspective, and focus on the relationship between governance complexity and effectiveness of food safety policy. The second and third sections analyse the European reform that has brought to the institution of the EFSA and describes the structure and functions of the new agency. The fourth section provides an overview of the organizational and functional institutionalization of the EFSA; the fifth section outlines the Italian system of assessment, control and management of food safety in the EU context. Finally, the last section highlights the controversial and not always linear relationship between safety delivered by the competent institutions and safety perceived by consumers, the ultimate beneficiaries of the regulative policies.