News story

Smarter rules for safer food

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The European Commission is modernising legislation around food, feed, live animals, and plants - your views are welcomed.

The European Commission has published a package of proposals to revise the current legislation governing health controls in the food and agriculture industries. The proposed plans will potentially affect all those involved in the production, manufacture, supply and regulation of food, feed, live animals, plants and plant reproductive material such as seeds.

The Commission’s aim is to develop a modernised legal framework for a more competitive EU. The proposals should simplify the existing regime by consolidating approximately 70 current pieces of EU legislation.

It will aim to create a more consistent approach to official controls, such as inspection and approvals, throughout the food and agriculture sectors. The changes are also intended to support more sustainable and effective control systems across European Union (EU) Member States.

The five elements of the package

  1. The animal health regulation, which aims to protect and raise the health status and condition of animals in the EU, in particular food-producing animals, whilst ensuring intra-EU trade and imports & exports of animals and animal products in accordance with the appropriate health standards and international obligations.
  2. The plant health regime, whose objective is to protect EU agriculture and forestry by preventing the entry and spread of foreign plant pests.
  3. The marketing of planting material such as seeds of agricultural, vegetable, forest, fruit and ornamental species and vines, which ensures the quality and productivity of this material given that it is the first link in the food chain and in forestry.
  4. A legislative framework for the organisation of official controls concerning food and feed safety, animal health and welfare, plant health and plant reproductive material, established to ensure that the sector specific rules are enforced by the Member States across the EU in a harmonised manner
  5. The fifth proposal - modernising the financial framework for the 4 preceding policy areas in order to support their goals is expected to be published by the Commission on 6th June. This proposal is linked to the multi-annual financial framework and proposes replacing the current multiple legal bases for co-financing with a simple, clear and modern legal framework which optimises the implementation and the financial management of EU funding in this field.

Full details of the Commission’s proposals can be found on the Commission’s website.

The Food Standards Agency is leading on the official control proposal, with Defra leading on the rest.

Next steps

Stakeholders’ views and advice on the potential impact and the scale of the proposed changes, as well as any practical considerations on how the measures might be implemented, will help form the basis for the UK’s negotiations with the Commission and other member states.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Food Standards Agency are already in the process of consulting with the food and agriculture industry and with government agencies across the UK to gather views on the potential impact of the proposed changes, and will continue to gather views once the EU member states and the Commission begin the official negotiation process.

Stakeholders are encouraged to submit their views on the Commission’s proposals directly to Defra.

As negotiations proceed, the revised regulations will be presented to the European Parliament and the European Council. Both will assess the details before voting on whether to adopt the amended regulations. Due to the complexity of the proposals, voting is not expected to take place until late 2014.