Implementing a food safety culture effectively helps reduce a company's vulnerability to food fraud. This awareness is becoming more and more prevalent and has now also reached the highest political level. The EU Commission has now revised Regulation 852 and adopted it on 03 March 2021 - one of the legal bases for food safety in the EU. Here you will find all the information and background.

Food safety culture has entered the mainstream of hygiene requirements. After the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) updated its audit criteria to this effect in February 2020, the EU has now also given food safety culture a permanent place in legislation in March 2021. The new requirements are set out in EU Regulation 2021/382 amending the Annexes to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004.

The background

The introduction of food safety culture requirements at the EU level is related to the Codex Alimentarius. Codex Alimentarius is a collection of international food standards presented in a uniform form. It is based on the assumptions and decisions of the so-called Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint body of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations. The Codex standards serve as a reference for international food trade.

The three objectives of the Codex Alimentarius Commission:

  • Protect consumer health
  • Ensure fair practices in the international food trade
  • Coordinate all work on food standards carried out by international governmental and non-governmental organizations.

All EU member countries are members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. In 2003, the European Union also joined. It shares responsibilities with EU countries according to the degree of harmonization of their respective legislation.

What will change and when?

In September 2020, the Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted a revision of its global standard for general principles of food hygiene (CXC 1-1969). The revised CXC 1-1969 introduces the concept of food safety culture as a general principle. Food safety culture enhances food safety by increasing the awareness and improving the behavior of employees in food establishments. This impact on food safety has been demonstrated in several scientific publications.

The change in the Codex standard and the expectation of consumers and trading partners that food produced in the EU meets this standard make it necessary to include general food safety culture requirements in the EU regulation.

Here you can view the decision of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004.

Why is food safety culture so important?

The aim of food safety culture is to raise awareness and improve the behavior of employees in companies. A culture that values food safety shows employees, directly and indirectly, that food safety is important and necessary to succeed in the business. This influences behavior and helps ensure that employees do the right thing. For more information on what a food safety culture is and how to assess and maintain it, contact us. 

Constanze Illner

Constanze Illner (she/her) is Research and Communications Officer in the area of sustainability and food safety. In this position, she keeps an eye on all important developments in this context and informs our clientele in a monthly newsletter. She also moderates the annual Sustainability Heroes conference.


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