7.4.2 Components of a food control system
The main components of a national food control system are:
- food law and regulations
- food control management
- inspection services
- laboratory services for food monitoring and epidemiological data
- information, education, communication and training.
To be effective, food law and regulations should be relevant, enforceable and ‘proactive’ (that is, have a preventive component) so that they can provide a high level of health protection. They must also include clear definitions to increase consistency and legal security.
There needs to be monitoring of compliance with food laws. Quantitative monitoring includes counting the number of food premises inspected, the number of food samples taken, the number of food complaints dealt with and the number of food poisoning cases dealt with.
Government regulators are responsible for auditing the performance of the food system through monitoring, surveillance and enforcing legal and regulatory requirements. The more economic and effective strategy is to entrust food producers and operators with primary responsibility for food safety and quality. An important aspect of education is to promote voluntary compliance with food regulations. Voluntary compliance means that food producers and providers adhere to the food laws voluntarily, because they understand the benefits of good practice, rather than be prosecuted or penalised for breaching the regulations.