Food Safety Culture: New Legal Requirements at EU Level

Constanze Illner Food Safety & Hygiene, News

The implementation of a food safety culture effectively reduces a company’s vulnerability to food fraud. This awareness is gaining ground, even at the highest political level. The EU Commission has now revised Regulation 852, one of legal pillars for food safety in the EU. A draft version of the general requirements for a food safety culture has now been published. In this article, we have summarized everything you need to know about this development.

Food safety culture has arrived in the mainstream of hygiene requirements. After the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) updated its benchmarking criteria in February 2020, the EU is now also planning to give the concept of food safety culture a permanent place in legislation. The new requirements can be found in regulation (EC) No 852 / 202X on the subject of food hygiene, which is currently being revised.

The background

The introduction of requirements for food safety culture at EU level is related to the Codex Alimentarius. The Codex Alimentarius develops and adopts food standards that serve as a reference for international food trade. It is based on the assumptions and decisions of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint body of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations.

The three objectives of Codex Alimentarius:

  • Protect consumers’ health;
  • Ensure fair practices in international food trade;
  • Coordinate all food standards work done by international governmental and non-governmental organisations.

All EU member states are members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. In 2003 the European Union itself also joined. It shares responsibilities with the EU countries, depending on the degree of harmonization of the respective legal provisions.

What will change when?

The Codex Alimentarius Commission is expected to adopt the revision of its standard on the general principles of food hygiene in the next few months.

The revision contains increased requirements for good hygiene practices. Among other things, these are designed to better avoid cross-contamination of allergens when harvesting, transporting or storing food. Food safety culture plays an important role in prevention and is therefore introduced as a general principle.

The change in the Codex standard and the expectation of consumers and trading partners that food produced in the EU meets this standard make it necessary to include general requirements for food safety culture in the EU regulation.

You can access the draft regulation (EC) No 852 / 202X here.

Why is food safety culture so important?

The aim of a food safety culture is to raise awareness and improve the behaviour of employees regarding food safety. A corporate culture that values food safety shows employees directly and indirectly that food safety is important and necessary to be successful in the company. This influences the behaviour of employees and helps ensure that they act appropriately. For more information on what a food safety culture is and how it can be assessed and nurtured, please click here.

Additional information

On request, we offer workshops & training courses on the subject of food safety culture.

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Constanze Illner Administrator
Constanze Illner is Research & Communication Officer at DQS CFS GmbH
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Constanze Illner Administrator
Constanze Illner is Research & Communication Officer at DQS CFS GmbH
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