161 Legal aspects of guidelines for traceability, recall and withdrawal

Legal aspects of guidelines for traceability, recall and withdrawal

Rules on product safety and traceability are defined in several laws and regulations.
Key to these guidelines are:

  • Law of product liability of 23.12.1988
  • Act on food production and food safety, etc. of 19.12.2003 Matloven (Food Law)

Product liability law applies to liability incurred by a manufacturer for damage caused by a product manufactured or put into circulation as part of his occupation, business or similar business (§1). The manufacturer is obliged to replace any damage caused by his product, which is because it does not provide the security that a user or the public could reasonably expect (§2).

Food law The purpose is to ensure health safe food and promote health, quality and consumer awareness along the entire production chain, as well as safeguarding environmentally friendly production (§1, 1st paragraph).

The legal scope of the law is all matters relating to the production, processing and distribution of raw materials and food stuff, including drinking water. The law also covers all matters relating to the production of materials and articles that are intended to come into contact with, or may affect, raw materials or food stuff. Furthermore, the law applies all use of raw materials (§2, 1st paragraph).

The law has, in Section 11, a provision on traceability in which the King may make regulations. In Ot.prp. No. 100 (2002-2003) on the Food law, it’s stated that (p.221) “The Ministry implemented the traceability requirement as provided by the EU Food Law, from the date the provision was valid in the EU (1.1.2005)».
In addition, the provision provides the legal basis for the continuation of existing traceability provisions (meat).

The food law also includes packaging as well as the food stuff themselves, while the EU Food Law does not. EU has requirements for traceability regarding packaging in its Packaging Directive Regulation EC 94/62)

Regulations on traceability of food stuff and fodder.
The regulation is valid from 1 January 2005 and addresses the business owner of food stuff and fodder businesses in all stages of production, processing and distribution. The main principle of responsibility is the same as in the EU Food Law: Each part of the value chain should be able to trace its products one point forward and one back.

IK-mat food regulation (Regulations on internal control to comply with food law)
shall ensure systematic implementation of measures to comply with food law. The regulations require inter alia: that companies should establish and implement effective routines for controlling critical points in their business. Written procedures for crisis management, withdrawal and recall should be included in the company’s internal control system.

EU Food Law (Regulation EC 178/2002) has provisions relating to traceability in Articles 13, 14, 17, 18 and 19.

The law describes traceability as: «The ability to trace and follow a food article, a fodder, an animal intended for food production or a substance that is or may be expected to be added to food or fodder throughout all stages of production, processing and distribution.»

The main principle of responsibility for traceability is that every part of the value chain should be able to trace its products one step forward and one point back.

Note: The legislative text is about the results businesses must achieve. However, they have no obligations regarding the way they achieve the results.

For updated information about laws and regulations, see:

Published on: 2. August 2018