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An overview of food safety regulations and standards

The food trade has enormous impact on both the health of populations and the economies of nations.

Organisations from the UN to world trade bodies, national governments and processors accept that people have the right to expect a high standard from food. At the same time, they need to ensure that trade is not affected by restrictions in that it becomes too burdensome.

It is important that in the long supply chains, consumer food is kept safe, is of good quality and is suitable for consumption.

These requirements impact business sectors, like food processors and producers, in every country as consumers are demanding better safety and quality.

Important regulations and standards around the world

The implementation of food safety involves a complex mix of laws, standards and accepted good practices, involving governments, international organisations (e.g. WTO), industry organisations (e.g. GFSI, BRC), research agencies, independent standards bodies (e.g. BRC, IFS) and independent certification bodies.

Rentokil works with food and beverage businesses across the world to protect their businesses from the health hazards and reputational damage that pest infestations can bring about.

Our pest control technicians are highly-trained and have the expertise that is compliant with the local regulations and standards.

Codex Alimentarius

The global reference point for food producers, processors, consumers, national food safety agencies and the international food trade is the Codex Alimentarius, first drawn up by the FAO and WHO in 1961 and managed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

The Codex has stimulated countries to introduce new food legislation and Codex-based standards, and to establish or strengthen agencies responsible for monitoring compliance with regulations.

Food Safety Acts in Europe and the UK

The EU set up the European Food Safety Authority in 2002 as an independent source of scientific advice.

These gave the food business operator primary responsibility for food safety and specified that the general implementation of procedures must be based on HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points).

The UK government established the independent Food Standards Agency (FSA) in 2001, bringing together several existing agencies into one body, to promote standards through the food chain and advise the government.

Food safety - getty image

US Food Safety Regulations

The US is the largest exporter and the second largest importer of agricultural products. US federal legislation regarding food processing, however, has lagged behind other developed countries.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama on 4 Jan 2011. It puts a major emphasis on ensuring food safety and public health using preventive action, rather than reacting after incidents of contamination.

This will change the role of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the Act comes into force over the next few years. It gives the FDA legal authority to require comprehensive, science-based preventive controls across the food supply chain.

India’s Food Safety Act

India introduced the Food Safety and Standards Act in 2006, which consolidated various organisations to create the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

Food safety laws in China

Since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001, trade with the rest of the world increased dramatically and provided a stimulation to adhere to international standards. It is a major food importer, being the largest market for the US, now taking 20% of all US food exports.

China has also strengthened its food safety laws recently. In 2009, following a series of food scandals and the changes in laws in other countries, it passed legislation similar to that in other countries regarding standards, inspection, imports and exports and responding to food safety incidents.

Good manufacturing practices (GMPs)

GMPs describe the methods, equipment, facilities and controls for producing processed food to produce high quality and safe products and are generally specified in regulations.

In the US, GMPs are written into the food regulations by the FDA. The regulations address personnel, buildings and facilities, equipment and utensils, and production and process controls.

GMPs, along with standard operating procedures (SOPs), form the basis for HACCP and the ISO9000 quality management standard. They are often visualised as a pyramid of dependencies.

Figure: The foundation of HACCP and ISO9000
Source: University of Nebraska

How Rentokil can help

While these regulations and standards are stringent for food and beverage businesses, it is important to remember that these are in place to protect businesses, staff and consumers from health and safety hazards.

There are opportunities for pests, such as flies, Stored Product Insects (SPIs) and rodents, to gain access to your ingredients and products at every stage of the production and distribution process.

Rentokil helps food and beverage businesses, across the global food supply chain, protect their ingredients, produce and of course the finished consumable products from the associated health and safety risks that pest infestations could bring about with innovative, pioneering and unique pest control solutions.

Contact us to discuss how we can help your food businesses stay compliant with global food safety legislation, standards and regulations.


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