Food

Official controls and enforcement

Official controls and enforcement

Official controls are carried out by the competent authorities in the Member States to verify business compliance with the requirements set out in agri-food chain legislation.

The agri-food chain encompasses activities preceding and comprising the production of food, i.e. from farm to fork, stable to table). It ranges from plants and animal production, to food manufacturing and supply; including activities that take place at the farm level, but also processing and distribution to the consumer.  Agri-food chain rules therefore cover the safety and quality of food and feed, plant health, animal health and welfare. They also cover import controls on animals and goods entering the EU from third countries (i.e. countries outside the EU).

EU Member States are responsible for the enforcement of agri-food chain legislation. Competent authorities organise official controls systems on their territory to verify that operators' activities and goods placed on the EU market (either EU produced or imported from non-EU countries) comply with relevant standards and requirements. All business operators must ensure compliance with EU agri-food chain requirements in their daily activities. They are subject to official controls irrespective of their size, depending on the risk posed by different activities to the safety of the agri-food chain.

The role of the EU is to assure that the control systems at national level are effective. This is the task of Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), through its Health and Food Audits and Analysis Directorate (previously called "Food and Veterinary Office" – FVO). It carries out inspections in EU Member States and in non-EU countries exporting to the EU to evaluate compliance with EU standards.