Laying Down Food Law and Establishing European Food Authority Regulation (178/2002)

Title: Regulation Laying Down Food Law and Establishing European Food Authority

Category: EU Regulations

Date: 2002

Reference: 178/2002 [Full text]

General Description:

This Regulation establishes the common principles underlying food law and also creates a general framework. The main principles established are:

  • ensuring a high level of health protection;
  • ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market in safe food and feed;
  • establishing clear definitions to improve consistency and legal security;
  • a basis of high-quality, independent scientific advice following risk analysis;
  • the use of the precautionary principle to develop provisional measures where a risk is identified but further research is needed for a proper assessment;
  • the right of consumers to have access to accurate information;
  • ensuring the traceability of food, feed, ingredients and food-producing animals;
  • ensuring the primary responsibility for safe food and feed rests with businesses;
  • Member States should be responsible for food law;
  • an obligation to ensure that only safe food and feed are placed on the market;
  • recognition of Community obligations, especially in relation to trade;
  • transparent development of food law and access to relevant information;
  • and the responsibilities of feed businesses where their products or activities may have an adverse impact on food safety.

The European Food Authority (now known as the European Food Safety Authority) is intended to give effect to the principles and requirements of food law and to act as a key component to improve health protection and consumer confidence, and, most importantly, to provide the Community with independent scientific and technical advice on these issues.

By 1 January 2005 and every six years after that date, the Authority, in collaboration with the Commission, will commission an independent external evaluation of its achievements on the basis of the terms of reference issued by the Management Board in agreement with the Commission. The evaluation will be intended to assess the working practices and the impact of the Authority.

Food quality and safety will be strongly improved by this regulation. The aim of this regulation is to improve food quality and safety, to protect consumers against false claims and product information and further to promote fair trade. Thus, the new system enables consumers to be provided with targeted and accurate information concerning the products.

This regulation requires that all stakeholders within the food supply chain (agriculture and feed producers, food manufacturers, retailers, etc.) must be able to identify the source of all raw materials and ingredients and also to whom the products have been sold. The food companies must develop and use new identification systems and data handling procedures and these must often be integrated into their quality management system and their HACCP system. Several product-specific traceability regulations have been prepared, for example on meat, fish and genetically modified products and more are in the pipeline. Further, international standardization organisations are working hard to develop standards to be used, such as Codex and CEN.

Pertinence to Agriculture: Food, Food Production, Food Safety

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