Food safety - Food and veterinary matters

The primary goal of the food and veterinary legislation is to ensure food safety. Given that the safety of the final product may be affected at any stage of the food production process, the legislation follows a food chain approach “from farm to fork”. All sectors of the food chain are covered, including feed production, primary production, processing, storage, transport and sale to the consumer.

The veterinary legislation covers animal and public health requirements for the production, trade and imports of live animals and animal products, as well as issues related to the control of these products. Arrangements for animal welfare and the control and prevention of animal diseases are also included. As regards animal feed, the legislation concerns marketing and labelling, undesirable substances in feed, the authorisation of feed additives and the control of feed producing establishments.

The food legislation includes general principles for food law and deals with a wide range of matters related to food safety, food quality and information to consumers. Some of the areas covered are biotechnology (genetically modified food), labelling and information, contaminants and residues, as well as food additives and food flavourings. Legislation concerning organic production is also covered by the food legislation in the EEA Agreement.

In the period 2002-2004, the EU adopted legislation concerning general food law and the European Food Safety Authority, as well as legislation concerning hygiene and control in the food production chain and legislation concerning animal by-products. In relation to the EEA Agreement, this package of legislation has been referred to as the Food Law Package. A general review of the veterinary legislation which is applicable to Iceland was also part of the Package.

The Food Law Package entered into force in the EEA on 1 May 2010. With its entry into force, the essential food law is now harmonised within the EEA. The legislation in the Package introduces general principles for food production, such as traceability, risk analysis and a precautionary approach. The legislation also sets out responsibilities and requirements for food business operators. In addition, the EEA EFTA States are ensured participation in the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA).

The Working Group on the Food Chain deals with matters concerning animal health and animal welfare, as well as public health matters related to animal products. The Working Group considers a large number of legal acts every year. The Working Group meets when necessary.

The Working Group on the Food Chain also deals with matters related to animal feed. A large part of the legislation that is considered by the Working Group concerns authorisation of feed additives.

The Working Group follows the development of new food legislation in the EU and facilitates the implementation of relevant legislation into the EEA Agreement.

The Expert Group on Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) deals with legislation concerning residues of veterinary medicinal products in food. The Expert Group does not meet regularly.

  • Veterinary Issues are covered by Annex I, Chapter I of the EEA Agreement.
  • Feedingstuffs are covered by Annex I, Chapter II of the EEA Agreement.
  • Foodstuffs are covered by Annex II, Chapter XII of the EEA Agreement.
  • MRLs are covered by Annex II, Chapter XIII of the EEA Agreement.

See also:

DG Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) - Food and Veterinary Matters

Seminar on the European Economic Area - Brussels 13 September 2018