Comprehensive food controls
Swiss food legislation is equivalent to EU food legislation. Ingredients, hygiene and origin are precisely specified and are regularly checked. In Switzerland, responsibility is shared as follows: The task of food control is anchored in the Federal Constitution, the Food Act governs the checks, and directives (e.g. food regulation, hygiene regulation) specify the requirements for hygienic production and sale-ready products.
Numerous laws and directives govern what information has to be provided when selling meat and meat products to consumers. The purpose of these provisions is to protect consumers from health risks and from deception, as well as to ensure the hygienic handling of food.
The legal basis
- Federal Act on food and consumables (Food Act) of 9 October 1992
- Food and consumables directive (Food Directive) of 23 November 2005
Article 23 of the Food Act, which defines the term of self-regulation and therefore self-responsibility, is critically important for anyone involved in the production of food. The resulting requirements correspond to the international treaties. For meat products, this relates to the complete production chain, from the producer and butcher to the importer and distributor.
The Swiss meat industry secures the high safety of its products with a large number of directives.
- The Food Directive defines what is approved as food. Among other things, it contains requirements in respect of ingredients, the declaration of origin, and the labelling of food.
- The Hygiene Directive prescribes the microbiological requirements for food (limits and tolerance values).
- The Directive on additives permitted in food has largely been harmonised with European law and governs the additives permitted in meat and meat products.
- The Directive on foreign substances and components in food governs the maximum concentrations (limits and tolerance values) of foreign substances and components.
For meat products, the complete production chain is strictly controlled, from the barn to the shop till. Depending on the area, responsibility lies with the federal government, the cantons, and sometimes with local authorities - at the border, with the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) and Customs, together with the Federal Office for Public Health; internally, with the food control authorities, under the management of the Cantonal Chemists. To ensure uniform implementation, the Cantonal Chemists have formed an association.