In the White Paper on Food Safety, the European Commission outlined a
radical revision of Community food hygiene and safety rules according to which,
food operators have the primary responsibility for food safety.
The new rules merge, harmonise and simplify complex hygiene requirements
previously set forth in a number of Council Directives covering the hygiene of
foodstuffs with special emphasis on products of animal origin. They innovate in
creating a single hygiene policy that is transparent and applicable to all food
and all food operators right through the food chain "from the farm to the
fork ", together with introducing effective instruments to manage food
safety and any future food crises at all stages of the food
Regulation (EC) no. 852/2004 of the European Parliament and the Council of
29th April 2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs, defines «food hygiene» as the
measures and conditions necessary to control hazards and to ensure fitness for
human consumption of a foodstuff taking into account its intended use.
Regulation no. (EC) 178/2002, food or foodstuff means any substance or
product, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, intended to be,
or reasonably expected to be, ingested by humans.
Guidelines from the DG SANCO (Directorate General for Health and Consumers)
The what was formerly known as the Directorate General for Health and
Consumer Protection gives an introduction to European standards relating to
food safety and hygiene.
In order to clarify to everybody concerned the approach taken on food
hygiene, which is documented in the “Food Hygiene Package”, the Directorate
General for Health and Consumers (as it is now called) of the European
Commission presents “
Food Hygiene & Safety” which explains and sets out these rules.
There are certain provisions in the hygiene rules that allow flexibility in
the application of these rules, offering the possibility, in certain cases, to
- Exceptions to or exemptions from certain requisites set forth in the
- Adaptation of certain requisites set forth in the
- Or exclusion of some activities when applying the food hygiene package
In order to better understand some of these provisions and to make better
use of them on the part of Member States, the European Commission has published
two working documents on its website that help to understand certain provisions
on flexibility envisaged in the hygiene package:
Guidelines for the competent authorities and
Frequently asked questions: Guidelines for food business operators.
These guides set out to help all agents that take part in the food chain so
that they may better understand the Community standards relating to food
hygiene and apply them correctly and uniformly. They do not, however, have any
legal value and in cases of conflict, as far as the interpretation of the law
is concerned, the ultimate decision lies with the Court of Justice.
Commission report to the European Parliament and the Council
Article 16 of Regulation (EC) no. 852/20041, article 14 of Regulation (EC)
no. 853/20042 and article 21 of Regulation (EC) no. 854/20043 require the
Commission to submit to the European Parliament and the Council by 20th May
2009 a report informing of the experience acquired with the application of
these rules, accompanied, as the case may be, by the pertinent proposals.
report, which was published on 28th July, presents definite data on the
experience acquired in 2006, 2007 and 2008 with the implementation of the food
hygiene package by all the interested stakeholders, including any difficulties
encountered, and is accompanied by a working document compiled by the
Commission, which includes the
annexes to the report.