FOOD SAFETY CULTURE: NEW LEGAL REQUIREMENTS AT EU LEVEL
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.
On the 25th of September 2020, the Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted the revised Code of Practice (General Principles of Food Hygiene (CXC 1-1969) and its HACCP annex).
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.
On the 3rd of March 2021 the European Commission included food safety culture as a general principle into Regulation (EC) No 852/2004. Recognising the important role that culture plays in effective food safety management, the new requirements will align the regulation with the evolving expectations of consumers and trade partners, and drive businesses to commit to culture improvements.
So the EU Commission has now revised Regulation 852/2004, one of legal pillars for food safety in the EU.
WHAT WILL CHANGE THEN?
On the 3rd of March 2021, the European Commission adopted Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/382, which amends an existing food safety regulation ((EC) No 852/2004).
The three amendments of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council concern on:
- the hygiene of foodstuffs as regards food allergen management
- the redistribution of food
- food safety culture
WHY IS FOOD SAFETY CULTURE SO IMPORTANT?
Food safety culture in a food business is the way everyone (owners, managers, employees) thinks and acts in their daily job to make sure the food they make or serve is safe. It is about being proud of producing safe food every time, recognising that a good quality product must be safe to eat. Food safety is your top priority
A strong food safety culture comes from people understanding the importance of making safe food and committing to always doing whatever it takes. It starts at the top but needs everyone's support across the business.
A food safety culture plan has become an essential element for food companies to manage and implement within their organizations. A positive food safety culture not only helps with employee morale, but it also helps with increasing food safety awareness and best practices which ultimately reduce risks and the potential for every food company’s worst nightmare…a complaint!
Food business operators shall establish, maintain, and provide evidence of an appropriate food safety culture by fulfilling the following requirements:
1. Commitment of the management, in accordance with point two, and all employees to the safe production and distribution of food:
- leadership towards the production of safe food and to engage all employees in food safety practices;
- awareness of the importance of food safety and hygiene by all employees in the business, including food safety hazards;
- open and clear communication between all employees in the business, within an activity and between consecutive activities, including communication of deviations and expectations;
- availability of sufficient resources to ensure safe and hygienic handling of food.
2. Management commitment shall include:
- ensuring that roles and responsibilities are clearly communicated within each activity of the food business;
- maintaining the integrity of the food hygiene system when changes are planned and implemented;
- verifying that controls are being performed timely and efficiently and documentation is up to date;
- ensuring that the appropriate training and supervision are in place for the working staff;
- ensuring compliance with relevant regulatory requirements;
- encouraging continual improvement of the food safety management system of the business, where appropriate, taking into account developments in science, technology and best practices.
3. The implementation of food safety culture shall take account of the nature and size of the food business.
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