Hygiene package

In effect since 1st January 2006, the reform of EU regulations relating to the hygiene of foodstuffs simplified and harmonised the texts that apply in the European Union.

Its objectives are to improve the safety of foodstuffs by strengthening both the hygiene conditions from the farm to the table and the responsibility of all professionals in the agri-food sector.

Afssa contributed to the development of these reforms mainly as a scientific evaluator and is highly involved in implementing them.

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Microbiological risk assessment
Enzymatic preparations
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Hygiene alimentaire
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Mineral water and drinking water
Studies and surveys on Food
Human food
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The European Union has simplified its food safety policy through the implementation of the "Hygiene Package" on 1 January 2006. This regulatory package comprises 5 regulations and 2 directives that are applicable in national law. It aims to harmonise the safety level by involving all those involved in the food chain, thereby subject to the same requirements, by making the responsibility of professionals official and by optimising health authority controls.

The Agency is involved in several regards, particularly on:

>Good hygiene practice guides

In this context, professionals are encouraged to construct GHPGs to provide a guarantee of the management methods applied in a sector. The Agency has drawn up guidelines for assessing national food guides (some of which it has already assessed) and has started an assessment cycle of Community guides on animal nutrition.
The Agency can also play a role upstream of assessment to establish the hazard list, for which it has also drafted hazard description sheets, a relevant tool for manufacturers. In addition, Anses's laboratories contribute significantly through the research and scientific assistance it provides to Civil Services for the validation of manufacturing process. For example, the Maisons-Alfort Laboratory for Food Safety has provided scientific and technical support on freezing protocols and food storage temperatures that may end up being included in the guides.

>Microbiological criteria

Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 is an application text of the "Hygiene Package". It distinguishes between the safety criteria which indicate "the acceptability of a product or a batch of foodstuff, applicable to products placed on the market" and the hygiene criteria for processes which indicate "the acceptable functioning of the production process". Non-compliance with a process hygiene criterion incurs corrective action intended to keep the process hygienic.

In 2005, Afssa addressed safety criteria. In 2006, it started its expert assessment on microbial flora that could be used as process hygiene criteria. This work led to the publication of two opinions:
- Afssa opinion of 18 January 2007 on the request to create reference documents on microbial flora which could be used as process hygiene criteria (only in french).
- Afssa opinion of 13 March 2008 on the references applicable to foodstuffs as process hygiene criteria (only in french).

Afssa then issued a self-request through the “Microbiology” Scientific Panel to draw up
recommendations for setting microbiological process hygiene criteria. These present the principles and method for setting process hygiene criteria and are meant to help operators to select and use them.

Accordingly, changes in European regulations on food hygiene should reinforce surveillance and monitoring by health authorities and assessment bodies. The operational effectiveness in health terms of these new regulations will largely depend on how well information is circulated if difficulties are encountered for the effective application of them.

On 1 July 2010, AFSSA and AFSSET merged to create ANSES, French Agency for Food, Environment and Occupational Health Safety.
Good hygiene practice guides
Opinions and/or reports related to this topic (mainly in french) :
> Professionals : information and exchange module
Topic: health control methods for foodstuffs and processes
>Find out more (French)
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