Foodlaw-Reading

Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

Providng access to food law since May 1996

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Last updated: 27 September, 2023

Food Law - Key Events

This page traces the history of some key events in food law from 1988 to the present day - as seen from a UK perspective

2023
 

UK:

 

March: New legislation, the 'Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act' came into force allowing for a simpler route for the approval of 'precision bred organisms'. Consultations on the process will be needed to implement the new controls (see: 23 March 2023)

February: To overcome difficulties with the sale of GB products in Northern Ireland (NI) following Brexit, a new 'Windsor Framework' was agreed to allow some goods to enter NI with reduced procedures and requirements.

EU:

July: As part of its 'sustainability' programme, the Commission issues proposal for controls on plants obtained by certain new genomic techniques and food and feed derived from them. (see: 5 July 2023)

 
2022
 

UK:

 

September: During the brief period when Truss was the Prime Minister, a Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill was introduced designed to set a deadline for the removal of all retained EU controls (see: 22 September 2022). However, when finally adopted in June 2023, the content was considerably reduced.

EU:

 

 

 

April: Commission launches consultation on new legislation for plants produced using novel genomic techniques (see: 29 April 2022)

International:

November: At the CAC45 meeting, with many delegates attending in person, discussion on the MRL for zilpaterol hydrochloride was again difficult. It was however, following a vote, moved to Step 5 (see: 23 November 2022)

2021
 

UK

 

 

September: The introduction of controls on food imported from the EU is delayed for a second time (see: 22 September 2021)

March: The Food Standards Agency required CBD products to submit applications for consideration as novel foods. An initial deadline for applications was 31 March 2021. Products would then be assessed and, pending that assessment, products could still be sold. (see: 11 March 2021)

EU

October: A Commission proposal to ban the use of Titanium Dioxide as a food additive was agreed by Member States - the Regulation for this was adopted in January 2022 for application from August 2022 (see: 8 October 2021)

May: Approval of first insect as a 'novel food'. (see: 3 May 2021)

March: The new 'transparency' regulation comes into force to update the process of risk assessment within the EU. (see: 25 March 2021)

International

November/December: The Codex Commission meeting (CAC44) was again held as a virtual meeting. There was extensive discussion on whether to adopt an MRL for zilpaterol hydrochloride but no agreement was reached.

2020
Global Pandemic : From February 2020, the world progressively had to cope with the spread of COVID-19. Emergency public health measures were needed.

UK

EU

International

September/November: The 43rd Session of the Codex Alimentarius was held as a virtual meeting spread over several weeks. Despite the novel arrangement, good progress was made on adopting standards (see: 6 November 2020)

December: Agreement is eventually reached on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement setting out the new relationship between the UK and the EU from 1 January 2021. (see: 24 December 2020)

 

 

 

 

January: At 11.00pm on the 31st January 2020, the UK ceased to be a Member State of the EU. There is though a Transition Period lasting until 31st December during which all EU laws will still apply in the UK. (see: Brexit)

 

May: As part of the overall European Green Deal, the Commission launches a new 'Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system' (see News - 20 May 2020)

April: New requirements (in Regulation 2018/775) for the provision of the country of origin of primary ingredients come into force on 1 April.

2019
 

UK

 

September: Following deaths due to consumption of products containing allergens, government adopts a Regulation to extend allergen labelling to foods pre-packed for direct sale. It applies from October 2021 (see News - 5 September 2019)

EU

December: The Commission launches a new strategy entitled 'European Green Deal' (see News - 11 December 2019)

December: The new Official Control Regulation came into force (see News - 12 December 2019)

 

June: Council adopts Regulation 2019/1381 amending several regulations (including the General Food Law - Regulation 178/2002) to increase the transparency in the risk assessment process. It applies from March 2021 (see News - 13 June 2019)

International

 

August: After many years of argument and discussion, the EU and the USA agree a solution to their WTO dispute over EU rules prohibiting hormone treated beef. The agreement allows increased sales of untreated US beef (see News - 2 August 2019)

 

June: The first World Food Safety Day is held on the 7 June (see News - 7 June 2019)

2018
 

UK

 

 

March: Following concerns at the management systems operated in a number of meat processors (for example, see News - 24 January 2018 and 20 February 2018), the FSA and FSS announce a review of hygiene controls in meat plants (see News - 1 March 2018)

EU

September: Concern that some food businesses sell different quality products under the same brand name in different member states has continued with the European Parliament calling for controls. (see News - 12 July 2018 and 13 September 2018)

International
2017
  UK EU International

 

  September: Following increasing concerns about 'dual quality', Commission President announces that "In a Union of equals, there can be no second class consumers. I will not accept that in some parts of Europe, consumers are sold food of lower quality than in other countries" (see News - 13 September 2017)  
 

July/August: The discovery of eggs containing low levels of the insecticide fipronil led to the recall of large quantities of eggs and egg products. The original contamination was in Belgium and The Netherlands but, due to a large export trade, contaminated products were found widely across Europe, including in the UK. (see News - 7 August 2017 and 11 August 2017).

 

March: On the 29th March, the UK delivers the official letter to the European Council invoking Article 50 and starting the two year process of withdrawing from the European Union. (see News - 29 March 2017 and 29 March 2017)

 

 

March: An updated Regulation on official food control is adopted but full implementation is not until December 2019. (see News - 15 March 2017)

 
2016
  UK EU International
 

October: The Food Standards Agency provides details of the review that it is doing into the enforcement of food regulation. Under the title of 'Regulating our Future' the approach to regulation and its enforcement is being reviewed to see if a better and more efficient approach is possible. (see News - 17 October 2017)

 

   
 
June: In a national referendum, the UK votes by 52% to 48% to leave the EU - commonly referred to as 'Brexit' (for British Exit). Discussions start about how to achieve this. It is expected to take a minimum of 2 years and possibly quite a bit longer. (see News - 24 June 2016)  
     
2015
 

UK

April: Scotland's new 'Food Standards Scotland' opens following the passage of the Food (Scotland) Bill through the Scottish Parliament. The Food Standards Agency will no longer have a role in Scotland. (see UK News - 1 April 2015)

EU

 

 

March: New EU rules allowing member states to ban or restrict the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their territory were formally adopted by the Council. This was necessary since there had been deadlock with countries having strongly held views both for and against extending the use of GMO crops (see EU News - 2 March 2015)

International
2014
 

UK

 

 

September: The government announces that, following a review of the integrity and assurance of food supply networks carried out by Professor Elliott, a new Food Crime Unit is to be established. This follows the horsemeat scandal in early 2013 and the realisation that additional action was needed to protect consumers from fraud. (see UK News - 4 September 2014)

EU

December: The Food Information for Consumers Regulation (1169/2011) comes into effect after a 3 year transition period. Major changes include updated allergen labelling, altered nutrition labelling rules and a minimum font size for mandatory information. the rules also had extended some requirements for non-prepacked food resulting in the change in title to 'food information'. (see EU News - 11 December 2014)

International
2013
 

UK

June: The Department of Health announces agreement on a standard format for the provision of front-of-pact nutrition information. This follows the previous refusal of several major companies to adopt the 'traffic light' scheme originally proposed by the Food Standards Agency (see UK News - 19 June 2013)

 

January: Following sampling in Ireland, it is discovered that horsemeat is being used in certain products instead of beef. Investigations suggest a major fraud involving trade in horsemeat in several countries (for first item, see UK News - 16 January 2013)

EU

 

 

May: The Commission publishes proposals to update and enhance the system of official controls operated in all member states. The proposals include new charges for food businesses to pay for the cost of providing the controls (see EU News - 6 May 2013)

 

February: Investigations into the use of horsemeat in products labelled as beef spread across the EU with large scale sampling of meat products. There are calls for tighter labelling controls despite the fact that the products were in any case contrary to current laws (see, for example, EU News - 13 February 2013 and 19 February 2013)

 

International

July: At the annual meeting of the Commission, Codex celebrates its 50th anniversary (see International News - 2 July 2013)

2012
 

UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June: The Scottish Government announces that it is to establish a Scottish body for food safety, food standards, nutrition, food labelling and meat inspection. This follows the changes to the role of the Food Standards Agency introduced in July 2010 (see UK News - 27 June 2012)

 

EU

December: The EU adopts new controls on 'foods for vulnerable people' simplifying and replacing the controls on foods for particular nutritional uses (PARNUTS) (see EU News - 20 December 2012)

October: The EU publishes a comprehensive listing of flavouring permitted for use in foods along with, where necessary, detailed restrictions on use. This marks a major step in the full adoption of the controls on additives, flavourings and enzymes and follows full evaluation of the substances by EFSA (see EU News - 1 October 2012)

International

 

 

 

 

 

July: After a lengthy discussion and a tense vote, Codex adopts a maximum residue limit for the growth promoter ractopamine. The issue was strongly opposed by the EU but supported by the US (see International News - 6 July 2012 and EU news - 6 July 2012)

2011
   

EU

December: The EU adopts a new 'Food Information for Consumers' Regulation which will fully update and replaced the labelling controls previously contained in Directive 2000/13. The new requirements will become effective from December 2014 although nutrition labelling will be become compulsory from December 2016 (see EU News - 8 December 2011)

 

 

International

 

 

July: The meeting of the Codex Commission votes on whether to adopt residue limits for the growth promoter ractopamine. Limits are not adopted. There is however agreement on labelling of GM foods. (see International News - 4-9 July 2011)

 

March: Following a tsunami on the East coast of Japan, there was radiation leakage from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Additional food safety controls were needed. (see EU News - 24 March 2011 and 25 March 2011)

 

May/June: Serious outbreaks of E.coli infection in Germany and France result in high mortality. Initial investigations suggested Spanish crops were the cause but subsequent investigation showed the source to be seeds from Egypt used to grow beansprouts. (see EU News - 1 June 2011 and 29 June 2011)

March: Despite attempts at conciliation, the Council and the European Parliament fail to agree a text for the new controls on novel foods first proposed in January 2008. (see EU News - 29 March 2011)

January: Dioxin contamination of animal feed in Germany leads to a large recall of food products. (see EU News 6 January 2011 and 17 January 2011)

2010
 

UK

August: There was media concern when it was discovered that milk from cloned cows and meat from 2-3 animals which were the offspring of cloned cattle had entered the food chain. (see UK News - 2 August 2010)

July: The new UK Government, formed in May following a General Election, decides to remove some of the responsibilities from the Food Standards Agency (See UK News - 20 July 2010)

 

 
 
2009

 

International

 

 

July: Codex Commission meeting adopts standards for: reduction of acrylamide in foods, reduction of contamination with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, prevention of ochratoxin A contamination in coffee, powdered Follow-up Formulae and Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods. (see International News - 6 July 2009)

 

UK

July: FSA review of nutritional benefits of organic foods is published showing little evidence of any benefit to consumers. (see UK News - 29 July 2009)

March: Publication of the independent E.coli Public Inquiry report on the 2005 outbreak in Wales. (see UK News - 19 March 2009)

2008
irish-pork

EU

December: Food safety crisis in Ireland due to contamination of pork meat by dioxins and PCBs. (see EU News - 8 December 2008)

November: Adoption of Additive Regulations by the Council of Ministers. (see EU News - 20 November 2008)

 

January: Commission publishes proposal for new 'Novel Food' Regulation (see EU News - 14 January 2008) and proposal for new 'Food Information' Regulation to update labelling rules. (see EU News - 30 January 2008)

International

 

September: Food safety crisis in China due to the sale of milk products containing melamine. Many infants ill with a few deaths. (see EU News - 24 September 2008)

2007

UK

September: FSA publishes research suggesting links between certain additives (colours and preservatives) and hyperactivity in children. (see UK News - 6 September 2007, 7 September 2007 and 13 September 2007 )

 

EU  
  September: Butcher responsible for 2005 Welsh E.coli outbreak sentenced (see UK News - 7 September 2007 )

 

 

 

January: Expansion of EU to 27 Member States.

 

 
2006

UK

December: FSA publishes first National Food Control Plan. (see UK News - 14 December 2006)

 

 

 

March: New food safety scare over traces of benzene found in soft drinks. (see UK News - 31 March 2006)

EU

December: Nutrition Claims Regulation finally published - but it is the wrong version which appears in the Official Journal!

July: Commission proposes new legislation on food additives, flavourings and enzymes. (see EU News - 28 July 2006)

January: New food hygiene Regulations enter into force. (see EU News - 22 December 2005)

 
2005
 

 

 

 

 

UK

September: Major food poisoning outbreak in South Wales linked to E.coli in cooked meats (see UK news - 22 September 2005 and 26 September 2005)

February: FSA orders recall of products manufactured with ingredients containing Sudan I. (see UK News - 18 February 2005 and 24 February 2005)

EU

October: European Court of Justice upholds the recognition of 'feta' cheese meaning that all 'feta' cheese mush come from Greece. (see EU News - 25 October 2005)

June: European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opens offices in Parma, Italy and completes its move from Brussels in October. (see EU News - 21 June 2005)

January: Regulation 178/2002 becomes fully effective and introduces new food law requirements.

 
2004
 

 

EU

May: Expansion of EU to 25 Member States. (see EU News - 15 April 2004)

April: Adoption of new Regulations on Hygiene and Official Control. (see EU News - 26 April 2004)

 
2003
   

EU

December: After lengthy political negotiations, decisions are reached on the location of various EU offices. The European Food Safety Authority will be based in Parma, Italy. (see EU News - 13 December 2003)

International

February: Extraordinary meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission held in Geneva to discuss proposals in the Evaluation Report.

2002
   

EU

January: EU adopts Regulation 178/2002 on food law and the establishment of the European Food Safety Authority adopted. (see EU News - 21 January 2002)

International

December: Codex Evaluation Report published. (see International News -10 December 2002)

April: International concern over research finding of acrylamide in baked and fried foods. (see International News - 26 April 2002)

April: FAO/WHO announce an in depth evaluation of the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. (see International News - 16 April 2002)

January: First meeting of the FAO/WHO Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators held in Marrakesh. (see International News - 24 January 2002)

2001

UK

February: Foot and Mouth outbreak starts and continues for several months. No food safety concern except some question the possible risk from the smoke from the pyres used to burn cattle carcases. (see UK News - 22 February 2001, 5 July 2001 and 8 August 2001)

EU

January: Following the discovery of 10 cases of BSE in Germany, both the Health Minister and the Agriculture Minister resign. Other cases have been found in Belgium and France.

 
2000

UK:

May: Concern over genetically modified crops and foods continues to cause concerns. Issue widely reported in newspapers

May: Butchers' shops licensing enters into force (see UK News - 4 April 2000)

April: Food Standards Agency opens for business (see UK News - 3 April 2000)

EU

November: Commission publishes proposal for Regulation on food law and the establishment of the European Food Authority (COM(2000)716)

January: Commission White Paper on Food Safety published (COM(1999)719)

International

January: WHO Executive Board agrees to expand work on food safety. Subsequently, in May, the WHO General Assembly adopts Resolution on Food Safety (see International News - 25 January 2002 and 20 May 2000)

1999
 

UK

November: Food Standards Act 1999 receives Royal Assent and become law (see UK News - 11 November 1999)

EU

May: Food safety scare over foods of animal origin contaminated with dioxins in Belgium. Many foods withdrawn from sale in Belgium and other EU countries (see EU News - 2 June 1999 and 17 June 1999)

January: After 10 years of discussion and argument, 2 Directives on food irradiation are agreed and subsequently adopted in February (Directive 2002/2/EC and 2002/3/EC) (see EU News - 22 January 1999 and 3 February 1999)

International

October: FAO Conference on International Food Trade Beyond 2000: Science-Based Decisions, Harmonization, Equivalence and Mutual Recognition was held in Melbourne,Australia (see International News - 7 October 1999)

July: Codex Alimentarius Commission adopts standards for organic foods and sets up Task Force on Biotechnology (see International News - 4 July 1999)

1998

UK

January: Government announces plans for new Food Standards Agency (note that the suggested 100 levy was not adopted) (see UK News - 14 January 1998)

EU

November: The EU agrees to the resumption of exports of some beef from the UK under strict conditions (see EU News - 23 November 1998)

International

January: WTO Dispute Panel issues report on the US complaint regarding the EU ban on hormones for growth promoting purposes. Both sides claim victory (see EU News - 16 January 1998)

1997

UK

December: Beef-on-the-Bone ban introduced but many consider that the risk does not justify the additional precaution (see UK News - 15 December 1997)

May: Labour Government elected with a policy of changing the way food safety is organised - promise to establish an independent agency. Report (the 'James Report') commissioned by the Labour Party in March presented to the new Government. (see UK News - 9 May 1997)

EU

September: Commission establishes a Food and Veterinary Office based in Dublin.

April: Commission issues 'Green Paper' (a discussion paper) on European Food Law (see EU News - 1 May 1997)

January: Agreement is reached on Novel Foods Regulation. Regulation is published on the 27 January and entered into force on 14 May 1997 (see EU News - 16 January 1997)

International

June: WTO Panel rejects European ban on hormone-treated beef (see International News - 6 June 1997)

1996

UK

May: Foodlaw-Reading web site opens.

March: Government statement that BSE in cattle is the most likely cause of nvCJD in people. Exports of beef banned.

February: Sales of genetically modified tomato paste start in 2 UK supermarkets

   
1995
 

UK

September: New Hygiene Regulations (SI 1995 No 1763) enter into force. These implement the requirements of the EU Hygiene Directive and introduce a requirement for food business to identify critical points - a step towards the HACCP system.

EU

February: EU adopts Directive on additives other than colours and sweeteners (95/2/EC)

International

January: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is formed and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement comes into effect.

1994
   

EU

June: EU adopts Directives on sweeteners (94/35/EC) and on colours (94/36/EC).

 
1993
   

EU

June: EU adopts Directive on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs (93/43/EC)

 
1992
   

EU

December: Deadline for the completion of the 'Internal Market' programme which had been started in 1985

 
1991
 

UK

February: The sale of irradiated food becomes legal in the UK following the adoption of the Food (Control of Irradiation) Regulations in December 1990 (SI 1990 No 2490)

 

International

March: FAO/WHO Conference on Food Standards, Chemicals in Food and Food Trade held in Rome to discuss, in particular, the possible impact of the creation of the World Trade Organisation

1990

UK

June: Food Safety Act 1990 receives Royal Assent and becomes law

May: With rising numbers of cattle being infected with BSE, the Minister of Agriculture seeks to reassure the public by eating beefburgers in public with his daughter.

   
1989
 

 

EU

June: EU adopts Directive on the Official Control of Foodstuffs (89/397/EC)

 

UK

February: Continuing food scares hit the headlines - Listeria is new concern.

1988
 
 

UK

December: Edwina Currie, a Junior Health Minister resigns following her statement suggesting that most eggs are infected with Salmonella.

November: Food safety crisis over Salmonella in eggs

   


This page was first provided on 20 May 2006
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