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Regulations in the broad sense (including all instruments described in the table) are systems with the following components:

  1. Standards, which consist of:
    1. Primary standards that are the rules actors need to comply with
    2. Secondary standards that are rules for control, monitoring, and sanctions for achieving compliance, while also maintenance of the standards is included.
  2. Actors, individuals or companies, which are (more than one role is possible for one actor):
    1. Owner of the regulation
    2. Executor or applicant, actually an actor who has to comply with the regulation
    3. Monitor or Assessor who checks and enforces compliance
    4. Maintainer who keeps the regulation up-to-date
  3. Relationships between standards and actors. Standards could be situational, meaning that actors may need to comply to specific parts of the regulation
  4. Signaling and communication, which consist of ways to convey regulations to actors and to the public

Regulations can be divided into public and private regulations. Public regulations exist on EU and national level, while private regulations exist mainly on national, sector and branch level. Regulations for food quality can also be called Quality Management Systems.

In the EU law for food processing have been defined to achieve safe and healthy food for its citizens.

In a book, published by the EU (Borchardt, 2010), that can be ordered free of charge on the EU website, the following table shows the composition of EU law into legal measures.





All member states, natural and legal persons

Directly applicable and binding in their entirety


All or specific Member States

Binding with respect to the intended result. Directly applicable only under particular circumstances


Not specified
All or specific Member States; specific natural or legal persons

Directly applicable and binding in their entirety


The EU has defined the baseline regulations all member states have to comply with. On top of these regulations, national governments may have defined more specific regulations. Otherwise, private actors may have formulated additional regulation. We will describe the national situation for each of the three cases: VION Food Group, Eichenhof, and Ham of Bayonne.

In addition to EU law there is also a global standard, called GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) for various stages in the pork chain, including transport.

EU regulation 852 requires HACCP – Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points for all food producers. The primary process has to comply with annex A of 852, which does not completely cover HACCP. Locally, though, private systems may have adopted the HACCP principles:

For more information, the EUR-Lex site can be visited, which provides an index to EU law.

Additional regulations exist to protect special regional products, like dry-cured ham, that have been produced in regional food chains. Specific regulations have been formulated for rural development.

Animal welfare has almost been harmonized all over Europe. However, many national rules exist that influence international trade. Animal health has not yet been harmonized, but the process has started. Some EU rules already exist with addenda (Regulation 2377/90). Still, each country has its own rules with respect to medicine (each with different residue levels).