Biological hazards may include bacteria, viruses, parasites and prions. Their exposure through food should be prevented, Some of these hazards may pose serious risks to public health, such as Salmonella in poultry, Listeria monocytogenes in dairy and meat and fishery products, biotoxins in live molluscs, Trichinella in pigs and BSE from cattle. Following the food crises of the 1990s, new measures were taken by the Commission to increase the level of food safety and restore consumer confidence. These measures, based on sound scientific opinions include:
- A co-ordinated and holistic approach towards food hygiene, covering all levels of the food chain and applying a transparent hygiene policy to all food and feed operators;
- Increasing knowledge of sources and trends of pathogens by monitoring zoonotic agents throughout the food and animal feed chain. Establishing control programmes for Salmonella and other food-borne zoonotic diseases to reduce the public health risk and to provide the basis for adopting measures to manage these risks;
- An assessment of the safety and quality of all types of foodstuffs by setting out microbiological criteria, applicable at the site of food production as well as products on the market;
- Effective control of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (BSE, Scrapie, etc). Development of measures to avoid contagion of other animals or exposure of the consumers. Harmonisation of TSE measures in Member States and the TSE import rules applicable to third countries;
Imported food needs to comply with the same standards.
Measures on the biological safety of food are complementary to other rules such as those on: