Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

Providng access to food law since May 1996

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Last updated, 18 January, 2023

EU Legislation: Official Control of Food

On this Page:

For information on the UK, see separate page: Official Control in the UK


Note: The topic of official controls overlaps with hygiene legislation. See: Food Hygiene Legislation of the EU.

For all areas of legislation, the EU has left it to Member States to provide national enforcement and court procedures. With different legal practices and varied national control systems (whether centrally operated or managed or a federal or locally based system), harmonisation has never been considered practical or required. However, ensuring minimum standards of control has been necessary so as to provide confidence in the quality and safety of products from other Member States - and to provide minimum standards for products entering the EU from third countries (non-Member States).

Perhaps the earliest move towards this was the adoption of minimum requirements for intra-Community trade in fresh meat - Directive 64/433. This required meat which was being 'sent from its territory to that of another Member State' to comply with minimum health requirements. In particular it had to have been inspected ante and post mortem by an 'official veterinarian'. It also required that the slaughterhouse and the cutting premises needed to have been approved by the 'competent central authority'. Subsequent controls on other products of animal origin mostly contained similar requirements.

With the moves to create the 'Internal Market', increased trade amongst Member States meant that, with no border checks, there needed to be confidence in the national control systems applied by each Member State. This meant that minimum requirements had to be set and applied more widely in the food sector. As a starting point, a Directive (Directive 85/591) was adopted providing for the establishment of common methods of sampling and analysis. More significant were the setting of minimum control standards by Directive 89/397/EEC (on 'Official Controls') and, later, Directive 93/99/EEC (on 'Additional Measures'). The food safety crises of the 1990s led to the adoption of the general food law (Regulation 178/2002) and the Commission was also committed to the adoption of a fully updated and expanded set of minimum requirements for national official food controls. This was achieved with the adoption of Regulation 882/2004. However the more detailed controls on products of animal origin (with the requirement for veterinary inspection) were combined into a separate document - Regulation 854/2004.

Most recently a very significant widening of the official controls has been adopted which provides for a more standardised control structure across several related sectors. This now integrates the controls covering food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products. The new Regulation 2017/625 entered into force in December 2019. Numerous additional implementing measures with supporting controls were adopted to replace those previously linked to the earlier controls.

The following diagram illustrates this history:

A larger version of this figure (as pdf) is also available. See: Development of Official Controls

The following diagram illustrates the changes introduced by Regulation 2017/625 (and perhaps explains its lengthy title!):

A larger version of this figure (as pdf) is also available. See: Regulation 2017/625 - Overview

For additional information, see the Official Controls and Enforcement page on the Commission's website: Official controls and enforcement

The 2017 Regulation

Quick Link to Consolidated Text
(but check below for additional amendments not yet included) :

Regulation (EU) 2017/625 (December 2019 version)

This Regulation applied from 14 December 2019. For details of the adoption of this Regulation, see below.

Implementing Measures

Note: Incomplete - includes only those which have links to food. For a complete list, see the Commission document: Official Controls Regulation 2017/625 Delegated and implementing acts.

COVID-19 Amendments

Guidance Documents

Questions & Answers on Commission Regulation (EC) No 2017/625 (Official Controls Regulation)

Provided by the Commission in April 2017. Available on this site (click on image).

Former Legal Documents

Final Consolidated Text

The final consolidated version of the Regulation incorporating all the amendments is available. See:

Internal Market Controls

Updating the Official Control Regulation

In May 2013, the Commission published a proposal to update and replace Regulation 882/2004. See:

The Commission published the following communication on the 6 January 2017. See:

After agreement with the Council, the new controls were passed by the European Parliament on the 15 March 2017. Publication of the text was in April 2017 as Regulation (EU) 2017/625 - see above for details.

The following are some news items relating to this and to the development of additional implementing measures::

This page was first provided on 19 July 2010
To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.