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Brussels, 31 January 2005

Traceability of food products: new EU guidelines to facilitate implementation

Guidelines have been agreed between the Commission and the Member States to facilitate the implementation of major requirements in the General Food Law (Regulation 178/2002) that entered into force on 1 January 2005. The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, consisting of representatives of the Member States, agreed on this common guidance document to make harmonised implementation in all Member States easier. The specific requirements covered in the guidance document include the traceability of food products, withdrawal of dangerous food products from the market, operator responsibilities and requirements applicable to imports and exports.

Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said “The new requirements in the EU food law include important elements like rules on traceability and the withdrawal of dangerous food products from the market. Their effective implementation will benefit public health and make trade between EU Member States easier. The guidelines address many of the practical issues raised in recent months by food and feed business operators and will help both businesses and national authorities to implement the new requirements.”

Continuous traceability along the food chain

The new mandatory traceability requirement applies to all food, animal feed, food-producing animals and all types of food chain operators from the farming sector to processing, transport, storage, distribution and retail to the consumer. The guidance document lays down detailed implementing rules for operators.

Information on the name, address of producer, nature of products and date of transaction must be systematically registered within each operator’s traceability system. This information must be kept for a period of 5 years and on request, it must immediately be made available to the competent authorities.

An operational framework for product withdrawal

Common criteria triggering the withdrawal or recall of a dangerous product from the market are defined. Situations where operators are required to inform competent authorities of this withdrawal are specified.

Implementation of business operator responsibility

All food and feed business operators are responsible for the safety of the food that they produce and put on the market. The guidance document clarifies that operators are responsible for the activities under their control.

Requirements applicable to imports and exports

The extent to which traceability requirements apply to imported and exported food and feed products is clarified. The guidance document addresses concerns raised by third countries trading with the EU.

Further information

The guidance document is currently available in English on the website of DG Health and Consumer Protection:\food\food\foodlaw\guidance\index_en.htm

Other language versions will be added as they become available.

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