New EU food hygiene laws have important ramifications that every food business should be aware of, says the FSAI.
As a consequence, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has simplified the regulations, which came into force on 1 January, to help food firms navigate through the changes.
Five leaflets have been published to cover the five new pieces of legislation, which bring together 17 previous EU Hygiene Directives.
"The new legislation brings together all the various regulations and assembles them out more clearly for food businesses to understand", said Dr John OBrien, FSAI chief executive.
The underlying premise of the law now very clearly states that it is the legal duty of food business operators to produce food safely. This is a requirement that is contained in current legislation and is underpinned in general food law.
The new regulations, which affect 40,000 food businesses in Ireland alone, have introduced a 'farm to fork' approach to food safety, and primary production is now an integral part of food hygiene legislation for the first time.
The five new regulations
EC 178/2002: general principles and requirements of food law. This demands traceability.
EC 852/2004: hygiene of foodstuffs. This demands HACCP and registration.
EC 853/2004: specific rules for foods of animal origin.
EC 854/2004: official controls of foods of animal origin.
EC 882/2004: official controls to ensure verification of compliance with feed and food law.
The FSAI says that its role is to assist the enforcement officers in its application. It says that the series of leaflets for food business operators is designed to present the legislation in simple terms and enable them to better understand the impact on their businesses.
"For the vast majority of food businesses, the laws insistence on the application of procedures based on HACCP principles is not a new requirement," said OBrien.
"In most areas of food production this legal requirement is already in place. The application of HACCP-based principles in food manufacturing and preparation is widely regarded throughout the EU and in most developed countries as crucial to the management of food safety and, in turn, consumer protection."
The five leaflets included in the information pack produced by the FSAI, which are freely available to interested parties, are entitled Key Principles and Obligations for Food Businesses; General Food Law; Regulation on Microbiological Criteria; Regulation for Restaurants, Caterers, Retail and Wholesale Operators; and Regulation for Premises Handling Products of Animal Origin. The leaflets outline in simple terms the legal obligations on food businesses.
In addition, the FSAI has a section on its website that provides further advice and will be continually updated as more information becomes available from the EU and Irish Government departments. The FSAI says that the website and leaflets will be of interest to all food businesses in Ireland, enforcement officers and interested parties.