Commission guidance documents aim to clarify hygiene laws

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

In a bid to help food companies understand the EU's complex new
food safety hygiene rules, the European Commission yesterday
published three guidance documents on the regulations.

The European Commission said it was publishing the guidances in response to requests for clarification of the regulations.

The regulations make food operators right through the food chain bear primary responsibility for food safety. The five new regulations merge, harmonise and simplify detailed and complex hygiene requirements previously contained in a number of council directives covering the hygiene of foodstuffs and the production and placing on the market of products of animal origin.

The revisions also serve to make a single hygiene policy applicable to all food and all food operators right through the supply chain "from the farm to the table". Other measures deal with procedures on food safety and on managing any future food crises throughout the supply chain.

While the package would lead to higher costs for food processors, it would also make cross-border trading in the bloc simpler for them by establishing a common set of rules. With the establishment of a common health certificate for food and feed products entering the EU, imports would also face less red tape under the new rules.

This is a mixed blessing for food processors. Those bringing supplies into the bloc would find it easier to do so. However it could also result in increasing competition within the bloc from non-EU companies.

One guidance deals with the implementation of certain provisions of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs. A second deals with Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 on the hygiene of food of animal origin.

The third deals with the required procedures based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles brought into EU law.

HACCP is a science based and systematic method of identifying specific hazards and measures for their control to ensure the safety of food. HACCP is a tool to assess hazards and establish control systems that focus on prevention rather than relying mainly on end-product testing.

The guidance documents are available on the European Commission's website​.

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