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The basic rules with regard to feed and food law are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002. In addition to those basic rules, more specific food law covers different areas such as food hygiene, residues and contaminants, pesticides, food additives, quality and compositional requirements, zoonoses, materials in contact with food etc. European Community food law is based on the principle that food business operators at all stages of production, processing and distribution within the businesses under their control are responsible for ensuring that that food satisfies the requirements of food law which are relevant to their activities.  Regulation (EC) No 882/2004  requires that Member States organise official controls to enforce food law and monitor and verify that the relevant requirements thereof are fulfilled by business operators at all stages of production, processing and distribution.
Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 lays down general rules for the performance of official controls to verify compliance with rules aiming, in particular, at:

  • preventing, eliminating or reducing to acceptable levels risks to humans and animals, either directly or through the environment;
  • guaranteeing fair practices in food trade and protecting consumer interests, including food labelling and other forms of consumer information. 

From 14th December 2019, Regulation 882/2004 will be repealed by Regulation 2017/625 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products. This new Regulation will apply in general from 14 December 2019

However requirements in relation to Reference Laboratories and Reference Centres in Articles 92-101 have applied since 29th April 2018 instead of Articles 32 and 33 of Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 and amendments made under Article 163 of Regulation 2017/625 to Regulation 652/2014 on the management of expenditure relation to the food chain, animal health and animal welfare, and relating to plant health and plant reproductive material have applied since 28th April 2017. In regard to official controls in the area of protective measures against plant pests, Article 34(1), (2) and (3), point (e) of Article 37(4) and Article 37(5) of Regulation 2017/625 will apply from 29 April 2022.

Regulation (EU) 625/2017 includes new and additional requirements to the current official controls regulation (Regulation (EC) No 882/2004) and places a strong emphasis on ensuring consistency and coordination across controls in the agri-food chain. 



Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 defines ‘official control’ as meaning "any form of control that the competent authority or the European Community performs for the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules"
Official controls must be carried out without prior warning, except in cases such as audits where prior notification of the food business operator is necessary. Official controls may also be carried out on an ad hoc basis. They can be carried out at any of the stages of production, processing and distribution of food and of animals and animal products. They include controls on food businesses, on the use of food, on the storage of food, on any process, material, substance, activity or operation including transport applied to food required to achieve the objectives of  Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.

Regulation (EC) No. 854/2004 applies in addition to Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 but only respect of activities and persons to which Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 applies. Regulation (EC) No. 854/2004 sets out the general principles for official controls in respect of all products of animal origin falling within its scope as well as specific controls for fresh meat, live bivalve molluscs, fishery products, raw milk and dairy products.

Last reviewed: 27/2/2019

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