Food Law News - UK - 2004

FSA Consultation Letter, 17 March 2004

HYGIENE - EU food hygiene legislation consultation 2004

European Commission proposals to consolidate and simplify EU food hygiene legislation: consultation on policy options for applying the legislation in the UK. Responses are requested by: 9 June 2004


In the European Commission White Paper on food safety of January 2000, one of the top priorities was to consolidate and simplify existing food hygiene legislation.

The aim was to achieve a high degree of public assurance in the safety of food through a system of effective and proportionate controls. The existing legislation comprises 16 commodity specific EU Directives and one Directive on general food law.

In July 2000, the Commission issued a package of five linked proposals as follows:

On 27 October 2003 the Council of Ministers formally adopted a Common Position on First Reading of the four remaining food hygiene proposals (i.e. H1, H2, H3 and H5). H4 was adopted in the EU in December 2002 (Directive 2002/99/EC) and will come into force in January 2005. Copies of the latest versions of the remaining 4 proposals are provided at Annex 1. Annex 1 also contains a list of key definitions from General Food Law (Regulation 178/2002) that are relevant to the consolidated food hygiene legislation.

The proposals have now returned to the European Parliament for Second Reading. There is a possibility of agreement being reached and the proposals entering into force in the first half of 2004. If the formula agreed in the Council for the date of application is adopted, the legislation will apply from 1 January 2006, or 18 months after entry into force, whichever is the later.

Although the negotiations are not concluded and the texts could change from those at Annex A, we need to begin to consult you now on certain key policy areas, in order to be prepared to apply the legislation from 2006.

Please note that this is a UK-wide consultation that covers the interests of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. If any of the information that you provide is of particular relevance to any of these countries please make that clear in your response.

Aim of this consultation

The three main EC Regulations that make up the package (H1, H2 and H3) will be directly applicable and therefore constitute the law in each Member State of the EU. National legislation is not required nor indeed allowed to give effect to the EU Regulations, beyond providing for their enforcement in the UK. However, there are a number of areas in the Regulations that either require or allow Member States to adopt certain provisions as appropriate in their national law. In addition, we will need to develop appropriate guidance on the enforcement of the legislation as well as explanatory guidance material for food businesses subject to the legislation.

In certain areas adaption of the requirements contained in the EU legislation may also be possible, subject to any requests to amend the EU Regulations being adopted by the Commission and the Member States via the Standing Committee procedure. We are not seeking your views on this as part of this consultation.

This consultation seeks any comments you may have either in general or within your specific area of interest prior to the FSA preparing national legislation and guidance to apply the EU Regulations in the four countries of the UK. We will be consulting separately on guidance in respect of the requirement for food safety management contained in Article 5 of H1. The results of this consultation will feed into the development of draft national legislation. We would encourage you to provide evidence, where appropriate, to support your responses.

A detailed description of the areas where we are seeking your input to our policy is attached at Annex 2. In each case, the FSA has provided its own perspective in the form of suggested preferred policy options. However, we emphasise that no firm decisions have yet been made and that you are welcome to suggest alternatives. A summary of the main areas is set out below.

Your comments are also requested concerning potential areas in existing national food hygiene legislation that need to be retained because they are not contained within the scope of the new European consolidated legislation. A full list of principal legislation that is to be revoked is attached at Annex 3. A detailed description of the existing provisions that the FSA considers should be retained in the new national legislation is provided at Annex 4. In each case background to the main existing food hygiene legislation is provided followed by a description of the areas that need to be retained. We would also be grateful for your comments on any other areas of the legislation that you consider should be retained. As mentioned above, we would encourage you to provide evidence, where appropriate, to support your responses.

To access the various documents mentioned in this consultation letter, go to the FSA web site at:

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