Growing concerns about food safety have led many countries to review the effectiveness of their food control systems. Countries often take different approaches to dealing with the same pathogen, and each needs to consider the best strategy. Given the complexity of these issues, it is necessary to assess the most hazardous part of the operation and to seek to reduce progressively the entry of pathogens into the food supply. Catering and other retail establishments demand a further range of regulations and, in many countries, specific groups, often attached to or part of local authorities, are responsible for registering and authorizing food outlets, with strict rules for compliance, food sourcing and food hygiene. The CCEE have a strong tradition for maintaining a public hygiene service, while in western Europe responsibility has shifted from the local authority and public health officers to supermarket chains and food manufacturers. Each country needs to ensure that a proper system is in place both to assess hazards and to handle them effectively, recognizing that the EU has explicit regulations and that countries seeking to export to the EU will have to comply with them.
In most countries, several ministries, departments and branches have shared the responsibility for food control. Health, agriculture, environment, trade and industry ministries are normally involved. The responsibility may also be divided between national, regional and local governments.
Resource: WHO Regional Publications European Series, No. 96