Food Law News - EU - 2003
Commission Press Release (IP/03/1057), 22 July 2003
HYGIENE - Better food hygiene: Commissioner Byrne welcomes political agreement
about official controls on food of animal origin
Commissioner David Byrne has welcomed the political agreement reached at the
Agriculture Council today on new official controls to ensure the hygiene of
food of animal origin destined for human consumption. The proposal is one of
five making up the so-called hygiene package of measures foreshadowed
in the action plan of the Commission's White Paper on Food Safety. This Regulation,
proposed by the Commission in July 2002, provides for revised rules for official
controls on fresh meat, live bivalve molluscs, and milk and milk products. Its
central aim is to ensure a high level of protection for consumers, giving enhanced
guarantees for the safety of products of animal origin. The Regulation will
go back to the European Parliament this autumn for a Second Reading.
"Sound effective hygiene rules are the bottom line to ensure safe food.
This Regulation will update the EU's rules on official hygiene controls of food
of animal origin. Together with the other elements of the "hygiene package"
proposed by the Commission, it implements the principle of "farm to fork"
control and ensure a coherent and effective approach to food safety. I am grateful
to Council and Parliament for their hard work on this legislation. I am sure
they will continue to work constructively over the coming months to complete
the job", said David Byrne, EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner.
Details of the proposed new rules
As regards meat, the proposed Regulation will:
- Integrate the latest opinions of the Scientific Committee on Veterinary
Measures related to public health, implementing a science-based approach to
- Implement a risk-based approach to meat inspection, aimed at protecting
the consumer from all relevant hazards linked to the consumption of meat;
- Integrate the farm to fork approach into the meat inspection
system, establishing a continuous flow of information between primary production
- Create a clear division of responsibilities between the slaughterhouse operator
and the competent authorities;
- Brings meat inspection legislation into line with forthcoming EU legislation
particularly in the fields of hygiene, zoonoses and official feed and food
- Provide for flexibility, so as to ensure the continued use of traditional
methods of production, processing and distribution, and to accommodate the
needs of food businesses with a low throughput or that are situated in regions
that are subject to special geographic constraints (e.g. remote islands or
sparsely populated mountain regions).
- As regards live bivalve molluscs, the proposed Regulation identifies what
needs to be done by the competent authority in order to ensure the safety
of these products. This includes the setting up of a monitoring programme
of harvesting areas to check the microbiological quality of live bivalve molluscs,
the presence of toxin-producing plankton and the presence of chemical contamination.
- As regards milk and milk products, new rules aims to ensure that where raw
milk fails to meet the required health standards, corrective action is taken
at farm level, and that milk that might constitute a hazard to human health
cannot be delivered for human consumption.
The hygiene package of proposals aims to merge, harmonise and simplify
very detailed and complex hygiene requirements currently scattered over seventeen
The overall aim is to create a single, transparent hygiene policy applicable
to all food and all food operators, together with effective instruments to manage
food safety, and any possible future food crises, throughout the food chain.
The basic principles underpinning the new hygiene rules are threefold:
- The introduction of the farm to fork principle to hygiene policy
to create a systematic, comprehensive hygiene regime covering all food in
all sectors, replacing the current, sector specific, patchwork of rules;
- Food producers should bear primary responsibility for the safety of food,
through the use of programmes for self-checking and modern hazard control
- The competent authority should have control systems in place in order to
verify compliance with food law in general and with food hygiene in particular.
The hygiene proposals are subject to the co-decision procedure. Once adopted
by the European Parliament and the Council, the Regulations will replace the
Directive on the hygiene of foodstuffs (93/43) and sixteen product specific
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