Food Law
LexInter | September 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

Food Law

Food safety and free movement of food in the EU and within the framework of the WTO

Food circulates freely in the EU in accordance with the general principles of the free movement of products. This free movement comes up against the will of States to guarantee the safety of products circulating on their territory, more recently with the development of the precautionary principle.

As far as Europe is concerned, public health imperatives have been used recently, in particular concerning the “mad cow”, BSE. Moreover, on the occasion of the Greenpeace France and others v. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries   the Court has for the first time dealt with the precautionary principle. The latter had been invoked by the Member States in a preliminary question from the French Council of State concerning the interpretation of the Community directive on genetically modified organisms (see the GMO file )

The precautionary principle and its conflict with free movement have  been the subject of litigation within the framework of the WTO. Two cases in the field of food safety were of particular interest for the development of the precautionary principle: the disputes between the United States and the European Union on the one hand concerning the meat of beef treated with hormones, and the dispute between Japan and the United States over certain agricultural products


Food safety

National legislators have developed legislation and regulations on hygiene and food safety. This results in particular from the legislation and regulations on fraud and falsification. It is part of the protection of consumers and in particular their health. It identifies risk management problems with the emergence of the precautionary principle.

The European legislator has enshrined the right to food safety through Regulation EC 178/2002, which came into full force on January 1, 2005 in all EU member states.

This text unifies all European food law. It affirms, reaffirms and juxtaposes principles, the most important of which are the following

  • the general safety obligation;
  • the obligation to comply;
  • the precautionary principle;
  • the obligation of external traceability.

Food safety regulations concern in particular

  •  additives used in production to extend shelf life
  • pesticides and other contaminants
  • allergic substances

The regulations on food safety are at the borders of environmental law, in particular with pollution problems, and agricultural law.

Food regulations

The labeling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs are regulated

Various institutions intervene in the application of the regulations, in particular the AFSSA, AFSSAPS and DGCCRF

Geographical indications, designation of origin, labels

Directive 2000/13 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labeling and presentation of foodstuffs and the advertising made in respect of them






Reference book

International Food Law, ed; Kellam and Guarino, Prospect, 2000

Links to legislative provisions



Malaysia: Agriculture

US Code, title 7, Agriculture

Council Directive 92/59 of 29 June 1992 on product safety

French law on general product safety (law n ° 83-660 of July 21, 1983)

Agricultural orientation law n ° 99-574 of July 9, 1999 and the concept of traceability

Parliamentary commission of inquiry created on October 9, 1999: report “Transparency and security of the French food subsidiary: assessment and proposals”

National Food Council

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