Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - EU - 2018

Commission, 15 January 2018

GENERAL FOOD LAW – Results of the Fitness Check (REFIT) on the General Food Law Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002)

The Commission has published full details of the comprehensive assessment launched in 2014. The following is taken from the web page on this topic ( Additional documentation is also available.  See links at the bottom of this page.


As part of its 'Smart Regulation' policy, the Commission has initiated a Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT). This is a continuous process, affecting the whole policy cycle – from the design of a piece of legislation to implementation, enforcement, evaluation and, where justified, revision.

Under the first stages of this programme, the Commission has reviewed the entire stock of Union legislation and decided on follow-up actions, including 'Fitness Checks' involving comprehensive policy evaluations aimed at assessing whether the regulatory framework for a particular policy sector is 'fit for purpose'. Fitness Checks provide an evidence-based critical analysis of whether Union actions are proportionate to their objectives and delivering as expected.

Fitness check

On 15 January 2018 the Commission completed the Fitness Check on the General Food Law Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002), which was launched in 2014. Scroll down for all important documents related to this publishing.

It is a comprehensive policy evaluation assessing whether the legislative framework introduced by the General Food Law Regulation for the entire food and feed sector is 'fit for purpose' and whether it captures and reflects policy trends of today. It contributes to the political agenda defined by President Juncker, giving priority to modernisation and simplification of existing legislation.


The Fitness Check focuses on the General Food Law Regulation, which is the foundation of all legal measures at EU and national level in the area of food law. However, given its nature as framework legislation, this evaluation has also assessed the implementation of the common definitions, objectives, general principles and requirements set out in the General Food Law Regulation in other EU sectorial food and feed legislation. This allowed the Commission to assess the cumulative effects and potential overlaps or inconsistencies that may have been created by the overall legislative framework.

The Fitness Check covers the period 2002-2013 in the EU 28 Member States; where significant, more recent data available has also been taken into account.

The mandate

The mandate for the Fitness Check on the General Food Law Regulation, published in 2014, defines the overall scope and aim of the exercise and sets out the key questions to be addressed in relation to the Fitness Check criteria:


The collection of evidence, data and information constituted a critical part of this Fitness Check. To support the evidence-base of the Fitness Check, the Commission procured two external studies:

These studies were launched in September 2014 and were completed in December 2015.

With respect to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and for the purposes of this Fitness Check, the Commission produced an internal intermediary report, which updates the latest external evaluation of EFSA (2012) in order to cover the period up to 2013-2014.

Ensuring that all interested parties were able to provide input and make their views known was crucial to the process. Broad stakeholder consultations (MS, stakeholders, SMEs, etc.) have been performed during the whole Fitness Check exercise to collect the views of relevant actors in the food chain and to gather information and evidence.

Main findings

Nevertheless, certain shortcomings have been identified:

Currently ongoing or planned evaluations on nutrition and health claims, plant protection products, food contact materials, food irradiation and feed additives will allow, amongst others, a more in-depth assessment of the way the GFL principles and requirements are translated into sectorial rules.

In parallel, a more detailed analysis of EFSA's operation and governance structure will be undertaken in the context of EFSA's external evaluation launched in 2017, building upon the findings of this Fitness Check and the specific issues of concern to EFSA.

The possibility of strengthening the transparency, reliability and independence of studies underpinning EFSA's assessments, while protecting legitimate confidential business information should be further explored.

The following documents are all available from the page given above. Those below with links are also available from this website.:

To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.