In all E.U. Member States, the overarching principles concerning food safety and consumer protection are established in general legislation and complemented in national legislation. The food law aims at ensuring a high level of protection of human life and health, taking into account the protection of animal health and welfare, plant health and the environment. This integrated "farm to fork" approach is now considered a general principle for EU food safety policy.
On the 28th of January 2002 the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EC) 178/2002 "laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety".
Regulation (EC) 178/2002 prescribes provisions for risk analysis of food, amongst others. This process consists of three interconnected components: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication.
- ‘Risk assessment’: means a scientifically based process consisting of four steps: hazard identification, hazard characterisation, exposure assessment and risk characterisation.
- ‘Risk management’: means the process, distinct from risk assessment, of weighing policy alternatives in consultation with interested parties, considering risk assessment and other legitimate factors, and, if need be, selecting appropriate prevention and control options.
- ‘Risk communication’: means the interactive exchange of information and opinions throughout the risk analysis process as regards hazards and risks, risk-related factors and risk perceptions, among risk assessors, risk managers, consumers, feed and food businesses, the academic community and other interested parties, including the explanation of risk assessment findings and the basis of risk management decisions.
Useful information on the food safety systems and Competent Authorities in EU Member States is provided in the latest version of EU Food Safety Almanac (2017) edited by BfR Institute of Germany.