Main provisions of the General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002 that apply to food business operators
Article 11 states that food imported into the European Union (EU) for placing on the market shall comply with the requirements of food law recognised by the EU, or if there is a specific agreement between the EU and the exporting country, those requirements.
Article 12 states that food exported (or re-exported) from the EU shall comply with the requirements of food law, unless the authorities of the importing country have requested otherwise, or it complies with the laws, regulations and other legal and administrative procedures of the importing country.
In the case of exporting or re-exporting food, provided the food is not injurious to health or unsafe, the competent authorities of the destination country must have expressly agreed for the food to be exported or re-exported, after having been fully informed as to why the food could not be placed on the market in the Community.
Where there is a bilateral agreement between the EU or one of its member states and a third country, food exported from the EU needs to comply with its provisions.
Article 14 states that food shall not be placed on the market if it is unsafe. Food is deemed to be unsafe if it is considered to be:
- injurious to health
- unfit for human consumption
The article also indicates what factors need to be taken into account when determining whether food is injurious to health or unfit.
Article 16 states that labelling, advertising and presentation, including the setting in which the food is displayed, of food shall not mislead consumers.
Article 18 requires food business operators to keep records of food, food substances and food-producing animals supplied to their business, and also other businesses to which their products have been supplied. In each case, the information shall be made available to competent authorities on demand.
Withdrawal, recall and notification
Article 19 requires food business operators to withdraw food which is not in compliance with food safety requirements, if it has left their control and to recall the food if has reached the consumer.
Withdrawal is when a food is removed from the market up to and including when it is sold to the consumer, recall is when customers are asked to return or destroy the product.
Food businesses must also notify the competent authorities (their local authority and the Food Standards Agency). Retailers and distributors must help with the withdrawal of unsafe food and pass on information necessary to trace it.
Where food business operators have placed a food on the market that is injurious to health, they must immediately notify the competent authorities. There are also similar provisions for animal feed.