A brief overview of food hygiene legislation.Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2007 Aug; 114(8):294-8.DT
Following several animal disease outbreaks and food contaminant scandals in Europe in recent years, the European Commission adopted the White Paper on Food Safety in 2000. This White Paper contains a number of recommendations aimed to increase food safety, improve the traceability of food products and regain consumer confidence in the food industry. To this effect a package of new European legislation on food and feed has been prepared with the following characteristics: responsibility of food safety lies with the food business operator, while the competent authority of the Member State verifies correct implementation of the new rules. Production should be based on good hygienic practice and HACCP principles and products are subject to microbiological criteria and temperature limits. The legislation deals with all food and covers the entire food chain ("from stable to table"). The general framework of the new food hygiene legislation is explained. The General Food Law (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002) is discussed in more detail as well as the Regulations concerning food hygiene. The characteristics and requirements of each one of the three Hygiene Regulations is presented (Regulation (EC) No 852/2004, Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 and Regulation (EC) No 854/2004) with a particular emphasis on the changes in the new (horizontal) legislation as compared to the old (vertical) Directives. Implementing measures of the Hygiene Regulations have been published in the form of four Commission Regulations in December 2005. The implementing measures deal with technical issues often in great detail and became applicable at the same time as the Hygiene Regulations with effect of 1 January 2006. The major issues as laid down in the four Commission Regulations are presented. Finally, various guidance documents are mentioned. These documents are available on the Internet site (http//ec.europa. eu/food/food/biosafety/hygienelegislation/guide_en.htm) of DG SANCO and explain in plain language some of the topics of the Hygiene Regulations.