Food Safety Culture: New Legal Requirements at EU Level

Constanze Illner Food Safety & Hygiene, News

Note: This post was updated on May 25, 2021.

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, the legal basis for food safety in the EU, and adopted the changes in March 2021. Here you will find all the information and background.

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 has now also given food safety culture a permanent place in legislation in March 2021. The new requirements are set out in EU Regulation 2021/382, amending the annexes to Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004.

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 according to the degree of harmonization of their respective legal provisions.

What will change when?

In September 2020, the Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted a revision of its global standard for general principles of food hygiene (CXC 1-1969). The revised CXC 1-1969 introduces the concept of food safety culture as a general principle. Food safety culture enhances food safety by increasing the awareness and improving the behavior of employees in food establishments. This impact on food safety has been demonstrated in several scientific publications.

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 new regulation 2021/382 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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