Food Law News - EU - 2008

EP Press Release, 5 June 2008

HYGIENE - High food safety standards but flexibility for micro-enterprises

The European Parliament adopted 2 amendments, calling national authorities to allow for more flexibility in particular in relation to micro-enterprises.

For the European Parliament it is important that the high European level of food safety will not be reduced by generally excluding all micro-enterprises from the food hygiene principles. MEPs adopted 2 amendments to introduce more flexibility while giving the national authorities more room to decide whether micro - or even medium sized companies should stick to the HACCP procedures or might be exempted. Their decision shall be taken on the basis of a regular hazard analysis and not only on the basis of the size of the company, as proposed by the Commission.

According to the rapporteur Horst SCHNELLHARDT (EPP-ED, DE) the report makes a contribution to cutting red tape without lowering the very high EU hygiene standards. It needs to be made sure that the flexibility built in the regulation becomes a reality. He calls for an easing of the administrative burden for SMEs while making sure that the food hygiene is respected. According to him the Parliament must sent the signal right now to clarify that it has the will to roll back bureaucracy and make life easier for SMEs in Europe, without diluting hygiene standards.


The HACCP system is an internationally recognised and recommended system of food safety management. It focuses on identifying the‘ critical points' in a process where food safety problems (or ‘hazards') could arise and putting steps in place to prevent things going wrong

Over 99% of all enterprises in Europe are SMEs, 90% of SMEs are actually micro-enterprises (less than 10 employees) and the average company has just five workers. However, these micro-enterprises account for 53% of all jobs in Europe, so their importance to the European economy is enormous.

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