After several decades of gradual improvement in its system for managing health risks, France was confronted in 1996 with the bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis. This triggered a collective questioning, which highlighted the need to reform a system that had shown its limitations. Risk analysis, established as a key principle by the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), was cast as the necessary basis of the reform, objectives of which were to better identify priority risks in order to ensure the protection of human and animal health, and to improve the quality of measures implemented by the public authorities. The Act of 1 July 1998 founded several independent risk assessment agencies, including the French Agency for Food Safety (AFSSA), with the specific mandate of food safety at every stage of the food chain. Other organisational reforms enhanced the new system, notably the separation between the functions of risk management and economic support for food industries, initially at central level, then in 2002 at the level of field services in the 100 French départements. Lastly, new procedures were introduced. These were designed, in accordance with the principles of risk assessment, to better identify and to individualise the different decision-making sequences. The decision-making process was extended to include submission to the agency in charge of evaluating health risks and examination by the agency of the resulting draft decision.