General principles and objectives of food law

General food law applies to all stages of the production, processing and distribution of food and also of feed produced for, or fed to, food-producing animals. Food law pursues one or more

© CAB International 2008. Mycotoxins: Detection Methods, Management, Public Health - 77 -and Agricultural Trade (eds. J. F. Leslie et al.).

general objectives including: (i) a high level of protection of human health, (ii) protection of consumers' interests, and, where appropriate, (iii) protection of animal health and welfare, plant health and the environment. Food law provides for the free movement within the European Union of feed and food manufactured or marketed according to the general principles and requirements of food law. When international standards exist, or their completion is imminent, they must be taken into consideration in the development of food law, except where such standards would be an ineffective or inappropriate means for the fulfilling the objectives of food law.

To achieve the general objective of a high level of protection of human health, the General Food Law specifies that EU food legislation is based on risk analysis, except when such analyses are not appropriate to the circumstances or the nature of the measure, e.g., labeling. Risk assessment is to be based on the available scientific evidence and to be undertaken in an independent, objective and transparent manner. Risk management shall take into account the results of risk assessment, other factors relevant to the matter under consideration and the precautionary principle where appropriate. Under the precautionary principle, EU Member States and the European Commission, i.e., the "Commission", may take appropriate provisional risk-management measures when an assessment points to the likelihood of harmful health effects and there is a lack of scientific certainty.

Transparent public consultation is required, either directly or through representative bodies, during the preparation, evaluation and revision of the food law. When a food or feed product is deemed to constitute a risk, then the authorities must inform the general public of the nature of the risk to human or to animal health.

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