Animal and plant health, food and feed safety

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Important aspects of human well-being are dependent on the exploitation of animals, for example food, clothing, entertainment or drugs development. Protecting and raising the health status and conditions of animals in the Community of Member States is an important objective of the European Union, especially regarding animals in the chains of food production. Activities of the European Commission's are based on the recognition that animals are sentient beings. The general aim is to ensure that animals need not endure avoidable pain or suffering and obliges the owner/keeper of animals to respect minimum welfare requirements. European regulation such as the Council Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purpose issue general minimal standards for the protection of animals. This reflects the pricinples of the Farm Animal Welfare Council (so called Five Freedoms): 1) freedom from hunger and thirst, 2) freedom from discomfort, 3) freedom from pain, injury and disease, 4) freedom to express normal behavior and 5) freedom from fear and distress. Member States may adopt more stringent standards.[1]

Plant health is of basic importance for human health and well being: Together with animal health it forms the basis for the production of human foods and are parts of the natural human environment. The main objective of EU plant health legislation is to protect the safety of food derived from plants and to secure the health and quality status of crops in all member states. It also regulates the trade of plants and plant products within the EU as well as imports from the rest of the world in accordance with international plant health standards and obligations.The EU supervises the sale and use of plant protection products, or pesticides and sets standards to monitor and control pesticide residues. It implements preventative measures to guard against the introduction and spread of organisms harmful to plants or plant products within the EU. It also ensures quality conditions for the sale of seeds and propagating material within the EU EU legislation also covers the intellectual property rights granted to plant varieties, as well as the conservation and use of genetic resources..[1]

The central goal of the European Commission's food safety policy is to ensure a high level of protection of human health and consumers' interests in relation to food, taking into account diversity, including traditional products, whilst ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market. The European Commission´s White Paper on Food Safety sketches an integrated approach from farm to table covering all sectors of the food chain, including feed production, primary production, food processing, storage, transport and retail sale. Strategic Priorities of the White Paper are 1) to create a European Food Safety Authority, 2) to consistently implement a farm to table approach in food legislation and 3) to establish the principle that feed and food operators have primary responsibility for food safety; that Member States need to ensure surveillance and control of these operators; that the Commission shall test the performance of Member States' control capacities and capabilities through audits and inspections.[1]

The European Commision's White Paper proposes to promote the health and welfare of animals only in so far as Food Safety policy is directly concerned. The Commission acknowledges that animal health and welfare issues in a broader context are important. In the context of this White Paper, it is recognised that animal welfare questions need to be integrated more fully with regard to food policy.

According to the Impact Assessment Guidelines of the European Commission, the following key questions are of particular importance when examining the impacts of policy initiatives on animal and plant health, food and feed safety:

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 JRC: IA TOOLS. Supporting inpact assessment in the European Commission. [1]

This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents. The text is partially adopted from:

European Commission: DG Health and Consumer Protection