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Food law and regulatory affairs - This is what you need to know about EU food law

European Union

Nov 10, 2022

In the food business the position of legal experts is sometimes a lonely one: they are the ones who know the ‘rules of the game’ and speak truth to power. And this expertise is not always received with great enthusiasm by other professionals. Sometimes, frankly, law is perceived to ‘stand in the way’ of business developments. Nevertheless, proper knowledge of food law can also prevent a lot of harm, and safeguard against damage or unnecessary expenses. In this chapter we offer a brief introduction to law in general, and European food law in particular. After all, in the European Union the most important legislation on food is produced by the European legislature, and to a lesser extent the lawmakers of the Member States. We will introduce the framework regulation that is at the core of all this: the General Food Law and its most important features, definitions and procedures, as well as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that provides the scientific substantiation for EU food law and policy. In this context, we reflect on the legal meaning of key concepts as ‘food’, ‘unsafe food’, ‘informed consumer choice’ and ‘food business responsibilities’. Furthermore, we will discuss important issues that relate to food production and sales from a legal perspective: among other things, we will address the questions ‘what ingredients can be used?’; ‘what product benefits can be claimed?’; ‘how should business processes be organised?’; ‘what is to be done when food does not meet food safety requirements?’; and ‘how can food law be enforced?’ Then, we will focus on legal methodology: what are the most important sources of EU food law, and how can they be used? Finally, we will look ahead and discuss future challenges in the field of EU food law, and draw conclusions. Among other things, climate change is considered to be one of the most complex challenges that lie ahead, especially in the context of food security, and it needs to be addressed as urgently as possible. These developments will probably lead to dramatic changes in food law as well.

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