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Food regulations

Codex Alimentarius Commission publications© FAO / Roberto Sciotti
Modern food legislation is based on international principles and standards

National legal frameworks are a key pillar in an effective food control system. In all countries, food is governed by a complexity of laws and regulations which set out the government’s requirements to be met by food chain operators to ensure the food is safe and of adequate quality.

Generally “food law” is used to apply to legislation which regulates the production, trade and handling of food and hence covers the regulation of food control, food safety and relevant aspects of food trade. Minimum quality requirements are included in the food law to ensure the foods produced are unadulterated and are not subjected to any fraudulent practices intended to deceive the consumer. In addition, food law should cover the total chain beginning with provisions for animal feed, on-farm controls and early processing through to final distribution and use by the consumer.

Although food law is used in a singular term, it is recognised that in many countries more than one law may exist which contains provisions for ensuring safe and quality food production. The situation can be further complicated where laws and regulations may not have been updated or may have constantly been amended, creating a maze of rules which regulators, industry and consumers find it difficult to understand. Countries often face the additional challenge of updating their food laws in line with international agreements such as WTO and Codex standards.

Finally, implementation of food laws and regulations is essential.

We provide support to governments in developing modern, effective national food laws and regulations. This technical support is provided through teams of legal advisors working closely with food safety experts. Due consideration is given to harmonising legal frameworks with WTO requirements and where relevant, basing them on Codex standards, guidelines and related texts which constitutes the benchmark for food safety at the international level.