Food Traceability Legislation
EU Food Traceability Legislation
Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 contains general provisions for traceability (Article 18) which require that the traceability of food, feed, food-producing animals and any other substance intended to be, or expected to be, incorporated into a food or feed must be established at all stages of production, processing and distribution. This Article has been applicable since 1st January 2005.
Food business operators must be able to identify any person from whom they have been supplied with a food, a food-producing animal, or any substance intended to be, or expected to be, incorporated into a food. To this end, such operators shall have in place systems and procedures which allow for this information to be made available to the competent authorities on demand.
Food business operators must have in place systems and procedures to identify the other businesses to which their products have been supplied. This information must be made available to the competent authorities on demand. Food which is placed on the market or is likely to be placed on the market in the European Community must be adequately labeled or identified to facilitate its traceability, through relevant documentation or information in accordance with the relevant requirements of more specific provisions.
Read The European Commission Factsheet on Traceability
New traceability provisions from 1st July 2012
From the 1st July 2012, the provisions set out in Regulation (EU) No. 931/2011 regarding the traceability requirements of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 in respect of food of animal origin will be applicable.
Regulation (EU) No. 931/2011 applies to food defined as ‘unprocessed and processed products’ in Article 2(1) of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004. It does not apply to food which contains products of plant origin together with processed products of animal origin.
This Regulation places an obligation on food business operators to ensure that the following information concerning consignments of food of animal origin is made available to the food business operator to whom the food is supplied and, upon request, to the competent authority:
- An accurate description of the food
- The volume or quantity of the food
- The name and address of the food business operator from which the food has been dispatched
- The name and address of the consignor (owner) if different from the food business operator from which the food has been dispatched
- The name and address of the food business operator to whom the food is dispatched
- The name and address of the consignee (owner), if different from the food business operator to whom the food is dispatched
- A reference identifying the lot, batch or consignment, as appropriate
- The date of dispatch
The information (a-h) must be updated on a daily basis and as a minimum be kept at least until it can be reasonably assumed that the food has been consumed.
Other principles established by the Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 include:
The Regulation establishes the principle of risk analysis and its three inter-related components i.e. risk assessment, risk management and risk communication in relation to food safety. Risk assessment shall be based on the available scientific evidence and undertaken in an independent, objective and transparent manner. Risk management shall take into account the results of risk assessment, and the opinions of EFSA as well other factors which may be legitimate to the matter under consideration.
Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 formally establishes the Precautionary Principle as an option where, following an assessment of available information, the possibility of harmful effects on health is identified but scientific uncertainty persists, provisional risk management measures based on the precautionary principle may be made. In 2000, the European Commission issued a Communication on the Precautionary Principle. The objective of the Communication is to outline the Commission’s approach to using the precautionary principle and to establish Commission guidelines for applying it.
The Regulation establishes a framework for the greater involvement of stakeholders in the development of food law and establishes that there should be open and transparent public consultation, directly or through representative bodies, during the preparation, evaluation and revision of food law (except where the urgency of the matter does not allow it).
Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)
The Regulation gives legal effect to RASFF. The system deals with the obligatory notification of any direct or indirect risk to human health, animal health or the environment within a network consisting of national competent authorities, EFSA and the European Commission. The Regulation also confers special powers on the European Commission for taking emergency measures. Such measures can be taken where it is evident that feed or food originating in the EU, or imported from a third country, is likely to constitute a serious risk to human health, animal health or the environment, and that such a risk cannot be contained satisfactorily by means of measures taken by the Member States.
Where it is evident that food or feed originating in the EU or imported from a third country is likely to constitute a serious risk to human health, animal health or the environment, and when such a risk cannot be contained satisfactorily by means of measures taken by the Member States concerned, the Commission can on its own initiative or at the request of a Member State (and following the procedure set out in the Regulation), immediately adopt certain measures set out in the Regulation. Depending on the gravity of the situation, emergency measures can take the form of the suspension of the marketing or use of the feed or food in question to subjecting the use and marketing of the feed or food to special conditions.
Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 provides for the drawing up of a general plan for crisis management in the field of food and feed safety. It also provides for the creation of a crisis unit. This crisis unit will be set up by the Commission and EFSA shall participate in the unit and provide scientific and technical assistance if necessary.
General Food Law – Implementation Guidelines
The Commission has published a Guidance Document on the Implementation of Articles 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 of Regulation EC/178/2002 on General Food Law. The document aims to assist all players in the food chain to better understand the requirements of the Regulation and to apply it correctly and in a uniform way.
The following issues are addressed in the document:
- Imports and exports (Articles 11 and 12)
- Withdrawal, recall and notification for food and feed (Articles 19 and 20) in relation to food and feed safety requirements (Articles 14 and 15)
- Responsibilities (Article 17)
- Traceability (Article 18)