Food safety: farmed meat, farm produce and animal feed

How to comply with the food and feed laws for farmers and feed producers


Cross Compliance requirements apply to anyone who receives direct payments under Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) support schemes or receives payments under certain Rural Development schemes.

There are two main types of Cross Compliance requirements for individual farmers - specific European legal requirements, known as Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) and domestic legal requirements requiring land to be kept in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC).

As a farmer, food or feed producer, you should be aware of food legislation that applies to your business and which forms the basis of the SMRs.

This guide explains your responsibilities under SMR (Statutory Management Requirement) 11, and provides an overview of the key food and feed laws which form the basis of the requirements. It also explains the roles of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and local authority Trading Standards officers in ensuring food and feed safety.

Food and feed law and Cross Compliance

To qualify for full payment under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) and other direct payments - eg the Environmental Stewardship schemes - you must meet all relevant Cross Compliance requirements. These requirements are split into two types:

  • SMRs
  • requirements to keep your land in GAECs

The SMR that applies to food and feed law is SMR 11.

SMR 11 is designed to ensure the safe production and use of:

  • food for human consumption
  • food or feed for consumption by food-producing animals

If you are a farmer claiming payments under SPS, you need to fulfil cross compliance requirements for all of your agricultural land - not just that on which you are claiming payments. This applies even if you don’t occupy the land all year.

Cross Compliance means meeting all SMRs and GAEC. For more information, see the guides on Cross Compliance: the basics, Statutory Management Requirements (SMR) and standards of Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC).

Inspections and compliance

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) administers the SPS and inspects farms to ensure they are meeting the Cross Compliance requirements. Local authority trading standards officers and environmental health practitioners are responsible for enforcing food law and animal feed law, following the Food and Feed Law Codes of Practice drawn up by the FSA.

The FSA is responsible for policy on food law and legislation on the composition and marketing of feeds and feed hygiene requirements. It also oversees local authority enforcement of food and feed law and is responsible for the Food Law Code of Practice and the Code of Practice on Feed Law Enforcement, which local authorities must follow.

The FSA also provides guidance to farmers and other food and feed businesses on the requirements of the legislation.

Penalties for breaking food and feed laws

If you do not comply with the legal requirements concerning food and animal feeds, and in particular with SMR 11, you will lose a proportion of any payments you claim under SPS. In addition, you could be taken to court, where the maximum penalty is a two-year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine.

Registering as a food or feed business

The General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002 defines a food business as “any undertaking, whether for profit or not and whether public or private, carrying out any of the activities related to any stage of production, processing and distribution of food” and a feed business as “any undertaking, whether for profit or not and whether public or private, carrying out any operation of production, manufacture, processing, storage, transport or distribution of feed including any producer producing, processing or storing feed for feeding to animals on his own holding”.

If you run a food or feed business, you must normally register your business with your local authority, and ensure that your facilities, storage, personnel and record-keeping meet the required standards.

Find guidance on registering your food or feed business on the FSA website.

However, many farms may already be registered under other official schemes (eg agricultural schemes) and if this is the case no application for registration under the Food or Feed Hygiene Regulations may be required. Farmers should check this point with their local authority’s environmental health department.

You can read detailed information on how to apply for feed business approval and how to register on the FSA website.

Registering with the Animal Medicines Inspectorate

If you are a feed business that uses, markets or manufactures certain feed additives, eg coccidiostats, histomonostats and non-antibiotic growth promoters, or if you are a farmer mixing medicated feeding stuffs, you must also register with - and be approved by - the Animal Medicines Inspectorate, which is part of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

You can download the VMD’s Animal Medicines Inspectorate guidance from the Agricultural Document Library (ADLib) website (PDF, 161KB).

Ensuring food and feed safety

Whether you are a food importer or producer, a farmer, or a feed manufacturer or supplier, you have specific responsibilities under European law. In particular, you must not:

  • place unsafe food or unsafe animal feed on the market
  • give unsafe feed to animals that produce food for humans or that are used as food for humans

‘Unsafe food’ in this context is food which would cause damage to the health of people if they eat it, or which is unfit for human consumption.

‘Unsafe feed’ is feed which could have an adverse effect on either human or animal health, or which would make food derived from animals that have eaten it unsafe for human consumption.

Food and feed may be unsafe for a variety of reasons if:

  • it contains undesirable substances (contaminants) above the specified maxima
  • it has been delivered, stored or processed in a way which exposes it to adverse weather, pests, or excess quantities of pesticides or herbicides
  • you are mixing feed on your own holding - the mixing equipment is insufficient to ensure a homogenous dispersal of the additives
  • it contains unauthorised genetically modified (GM) ingredients

The above list is not exhaustive. It may also be subject to emergency measures when natural or manmade disasters or disease outbreaks dictate country-, region- or product-specific action to protect human and/or animal health.

For example, all food and feed products originating in or consigned from areas of Japan within a certain radius of the Fukushima nuclear power station must undergo tests and be accompanied by analytical reports to show they do not exceed European Union (EU) maximum permitted radioactive levels.

Those products meeting the enhanced criteria must be pre-notified to the authorities at the Border Inspection Post of entry at least two days before their arrival in the EU.

It is the responsibility of each food or feed business operator to identify the potential hazards which may arise and take steps to avoid or minimise them, as appropriate.

Dealing with unsafe food or feed

A ‘food incident’ is any event where, based on the information available, there are concerns about actual or suspected threats to the safety or quality of food that could require intervention to protect consumers’ interests.

If you are a farmer running a food business, and you know or suspect that a food incident has occurred, you have a legal responsibility to:

  • arrange for the unsafe food which has left your possession or unsafe feed to be withdrawn from the market if you supplied it, and to tell both your local authority and the FSA
  • destroy unsafe feed, unless your local authority or the FSA tells you not to
  • tell any consumers of the food, or users of the feed, of the reason why it’s been withdrawn
  • arrange for unsafe food or unsafe feed to be recalled if there is no other way of safeguarding the health of humans or animals
  • inform the local authority and the FSA if you have placed food on the market which may be damaging to health and let them know the action you are taking to prevent risks to the final consumer, collaborating with them
  • immediately make a food incident report to your local authority and the FSA if food which you have supplied, or which is in your possession and you were intended to sell, could be a danger to health

You can make a food incident report online using a form on the FSA website. You need to register in order to complete the form. Read guidance on how to report a food incident on the FSA website.

Download a guide to the online incident report form from the FSA website (PDF, 1.21MB).

Composition, labelling and marketing of animal feed

Legislation on the labelling and composition of animal feed is agreed by the EU. It applies mainly to feed for farmed livestock, but also covers feed for horses, pets, farmed fish, zoo and circus animals, and creatures living freely in the wild.

If you are a feed business, you will need to make sure that you follow these regulations when manufacturing, labelling and marketing your animal feedstuffs.

Composition of animal feed

EU legislation, backed by the Feeding Stuffs Regulations 2010, covers:

  • information to be provided to purchasers on feed labels
  • nutritional claims that can be made for certain feed products
  • names and descriptions to be applied to various feed materials (that is, ingredients either fed singly or included in compound (manufactured) feeds)
  • additives (including vitamins, colourants, flavourings, binders) authorised for use in animal feed
  • maximum levels of various contaminants (for example arsenic, lead, dioxins and certain pesticides)
  • what substances must not be used in feed

In England, the Animal Feed (England) Regulations 2010 apply. Separate but parallel legislation applies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

You can find more information about animal feed legislation on the FSA website.

GM materials in animal feed

Under European Community (EC) Regulation 1829/2003 (GM Food and Feed Regulation), only authorised GM varieties can be used or grown in the EU. Some of these authorised varieties, particularly soya and maize or their derivatives, may be present in the animal feed you buy.

As a part of this authorisation procedure, all GM varieties are assessed to ensure that they do not present any risk to animals or humans. Any food produced from animals fed on authorised GM feed is considered to be just as safe as food products from animals fed on non-GM feed.

Read information about GM material in animal feed on the FSA website.

Traceability of food and feed

All farmers have a responsibility under European legislation to ensure the traceability of all of the following entering or leaving the farm:

  • food
  • feed
  • food-producing animals

This is so that records are available in the case of an incident.

You need to keep traceability records in an easily accessible format - in the form of well-organised receipts or on paper or electronically - and you must be able to produce them when requested.

For example, your records will be needed if you have a Cross Compliance inspection by the RPA or other inspection authority. It is for you to decide how long to keep your records bearing in mind the nature of the food or feed, its product life and the circumstances under which you might be required to produce records.

Traceability of inputs

For each of the food and feed inputs to your farm, your records must clearly identify the:

  • supplier’s name and address
  • type and quantity of inputs
  • delivery date of the inputs

Traceability of products leaving the farm

For all food and feed products leaving the farm (whether or not they were inputs that have not been altered) your records must clearly identify the:

  • name and address of the businesses to which you supplied the products
  • nature and quantity of the products supplied
  • date on which the supplies left your farm

Hygiene and record-keeping

Good hygiene and accurate record-keeping are statutory requirements that farmers must follow when storing, handling, buying and using food and feed products.

Good hygiene

In order to comply with SMR 11 on food and feed law, you must:

  • store and handle waste and hazardous substances in such a way that it cannot contaminate your food products or feed products
  • store feed away from chemicals or any other products that are prohibited for use as animal feed
  • store and handle medicated and non-medicated feeds separately, to ensure that they are fed to the right animals and there is no cross-contamination
  • if you use feed additives, veterinary medicinal products, or biocides on your farm, use them in accordance with the dosage, application and storage stated on the label or as prescribed
  • take adequate measures to prevent the introduction and spread of contagious diseases which are transmissible to humans through food, including statutory herd testing for bovine tuberculosis, pre-movement tuberculosis testing of animals, taking precautionary measures when introducing new animals and reporting suspected disease outbreaks to the competent authority
  • use establishments that are registered with and/or approved by your local authority when sourcing feed for food-producing animals


You need to keep records on all of the following, in order to comply with SMR 11:

  • veterinary medicinal products or other treatments given to your animals, including the dates of the treatment and the withdrawal period
  • plant protection products and biocides
  • the results of any analyses carried out on samples taken for diagnostic purposes from food-producing animals or plants
  • samples taken for diagnostic purposes where these have importance for animal or human health
  • any relevant reports on checks carried out on animals or products of animal origin
  • the occurrence of any pests or disease that may affect the safety of products, including crops and products of animal origin
  • any use of GM seeds in feed production

Exemptions from requirements on hygiene of foodstuffs and feed

You are exempt from these requirements if you supply small quantities of primary products which you have supplied:

  • directly to the final consumer, for example, through farm gate sales
  • to local shops or markets which sell directly to the final consumer

The following activities are also exempt:

  • the private domestic production of feed for food-producing animals kept for food production
  • the private domestic production of feed for animals not kept for food production
  • the direct supply of small quantities of primary production of feed at local level by the producer to local farms for use on those farms
  • the feeding of animals not kept for food production
  • the retailing of pet food

However, it is sensible to maintain good practices even when there is no statutory requirement to do so.

Additional hygiene rules for egg producers

If you are a commercial egg producer, in addition to the standard hygiene rules under SMR 11 on food and feed law, you must keep eggs:

  • clean and dry
  • away from sources of strong odours
  • protected from shocks
  • out of direct sunshine

Further Information

FSA Animal Feed Helpline

020 7276 8462

FSA Helpline

020 7276 8829

Cross Compliance Helpline

0845 345 1302

RPA Customer Service Centre

0845 603 7777

Defra Helpline

08459 33 55 77

Food law overview on the FSA website

Download the Food Law Code of Practice from the FSA website (PDF, 783KB)

Animal feed legislation explained on the FSA website

Feed business approval and registration guidance on the FSA website

Download the VMD’s feed manufacturer guidance from the ADLib website (PDF, 161KB)

Animal feed legislation guidance on the FSA website

Food incident reporting advice on the FSA website

Download online incident report form guidance from the FSA website (PDF, 1.21MB)

Download Feeding Stuffs Regulations 2005 guidance notes from the FSA website (PDF, 41KB)

Download Food Safety, Traceability, Product Withdrawal and Recall guidance from the FSA website (PDF, 84KB)

Download EC food law compliance advice from the Europa website (PDF, 252KB)

Download feed safety requirements under EC feed law from the FSA website (PDF, 25KB)

Published 29 August 2012
Last updated 5 September 2013 + show all updates
  1. Removed mentions of Feedings Stuffs Regulations 2005 which has been repealed. Added information on the Animal Feed (England) Regulations 2010
  2. Fixing references to specialist guides
  3. First published.