Every European citizen has the right to know how the food he eats is produced, processed, packaged, labelled and sold. The central goal of the European Commission’s Food Safety policy is to ensure a high level of protection of human health regarding the food industry — Europe’s largest manufacturing and employment sector. The Commission’s guiding principle, primarily set out in its White Paper on Food Safety, is to apply an integrated approach from farm to fork covering all sectors of the food chain.1
Ensuring safe food from farm to fork
Health protection is the aim of all EU laws and standards in the agriculture, animal husbandry and food production sectors. An extensive body of EU-wide law covers the entire food production and processing chain within the EU, as well as imported and exported goods.2
EU countries implement these harmonised standards and establish controls to enforce them. The EU audits the application and effectiveness of the laws and controls, and also provides training to the responsible EU and international authorities.3
EU food safety policy and action is concentrated in 4 main areas of protection:
* Food hygiene: food businesses, from farms to restaurants, must comply with EU food law, including those importing food to the EU.
* Animal health: sanitary controls and measures for pets, farmed animals and wildlife monitor and manage diseases, and trace the movement of all farm animals.
* Plant health: detection and eradication of pests at an early stage prevents spreading and ensures healthy seeds.
* Contaminants and residues: monitoring keeps contaminants away from food and animal feed. Maximum acceptable limits apply to domestic and imported food and feed products.4
Rules on hygiene of foodstuffs were adopted in April 2004 by the European Parliament and the Council […]. They became applicable on 1 January 2006.5
The 2004 rules merged, harmonised and simplified detailed and complex hygiene requirements previously contained in a number of Council Directives covering the hygiene of foodstuffs and the production and placing on the market of products of animal origin.
The rules in place since 2006 innovate in making a single, transparent hygiene policy applicable to all food and all food operators right through the food chain (“from farm to fork”), together with effective instruments to manage food safety and any future food crises throughout the food chain.
A Commission report (2009) recounts the experience gained, including the difficulties encountered (in 2006, 2007 and 2008) from the implementation of the hygiene package by all interested actors. It does not suggest any detailed solutions to the difficulties reported and is, therefore, not accompanied by proposals.
2Food safety in the EU, European Union. https://europa.eu/european-union/topics/food-safety_en (page visited on 17/12/2019)
5Food Hygiene, European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/biosafety/food_hygiene_en (page visited on 17/12/2019)