Food and Feed Safety

The central goal of the Food Safety policy in the EU is to ensure a high level of protection of human health regarding the food and feed industry. Legislation covers important matters:

  • the use of approved raw materials
  • maximizing the presence of undesirable substances
  • hygienic conditions during processing, transport and storage
  • prescribed risk analyses and controls.

The basis of most food safety rules in the EU is the General Food Law, an integrated approach to food safety 'from farm to fork'. It covers all sectors of the food chain, including feed production, primary production, food processing, storage, transport and retail sale.  

General Food Law

The General Food Law Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002) sets out an overarching and coherent framework for the development of food and feed legislation both at EU and national levels. To this end, it lays down general principles, requirements and procedures that underpin decision making in matters of food and feed safety, covering all stages of food and feed production and distribution. It also sets up an independent agency responsible for scientific advice and support, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Moreover, it creates the main procedures and tools for the management of emergencies and crises as well as the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

The more specific regulations and directives are based on the General Food Law. Below you'll find some important  aspects that must guarantee product quality and product safety in the oils and fats industry.


There are rules for the maximum concentrations of undesirable substances that may occur in food, feed or ingredients. These rules are set to guarantee product quality and product safety throughout the European Union. The unwanted substances, which we call 'contaminants', can be naturally present in a product, but also as a result of the production process or accidentally end up in the product.

When determining those maximum quantities, the European Commission looks at various things. For example, the amounts naturally present in the product in question, the harmfulness of the substance to human and animal health, the available methods for determining the presence of the substance and the value below which the undesirable substance is no longer in the product. Examples of most important hazards are MCPD esters and Glycidyl esters, Mineral Oil Hydrocarbon (MOSH/MOAH), and dioxins.

The European Commission does reduce these maximums regularly, since the methods of finding unwanted substances are constantly improving. Also growers and processors have more and more options to remove undesireble substances from the product during production and distribution.


Pesticides are substances that are used by farmers to improve their crops by protecting them from harm of pests and weeds. These include herbicides and insecticides, which is are the biggest categories, but more varieties are known to control specific pests. Pesticides can occur on food- or feed as pesticide residues in very small amounts and is monitored very strict by all oils and fats companies. Our industry has a top priority to produce safe products without harmful substances. Therefore, pesticides and pesticide legislation is one of the main topics that is covered under food- and feed safety.

European legislation specify a 'maximum residue limit' or MRL for each crop/product combination. This is the value of the maximum amount of pesticide per type of crop, which is still reasonably acceptable. In doing so, the European Commission looks at the concentration required for cultivation and at the subsequent operations in which the pesticide content can be reduced. The European Commission requires all processors and producers of food and feed to do their utmost to keep the content of undesirable substances, including pesticides, as low as possible.

Transport and storage

Transport and storage companies fulfill an important role in the supply chain of the oils and fats industry. The activities of the transport and storage companies could have impact on hygiene and food and feed safety of the products. Therefore, also representatives of these companies are members of our organisation. On the MVO website we publish the most relevant legislation, code of practices and statements for the oils and fats industry related to transport and storage.There are separate rules for the sea transport of oils and fats. 

Genetically Modified Organism 

A genetically modified (GM) organism contains DNA that has been altered using genetic engineering. Many GM varieties of rape (canola), soy beans, and mais/corn are being grown throughout the world. In Europe the legal limit for approved GM ‘inclusion’ is 0.9% and grains with a level greater than this must be labelled as GM. The majority of food products in the EU are sold as containing no GM material. Feed products are often containing GM versions (soy meal and rapeseed meal). Most of the soy (products) imported in the EU is GM.



Previous page
Next page