At today’s remote-participation sitting, the Riigikogu approved the Act on Amendments to the Food Act that provides more flexible hygiene requirements for handling food of animal origin for small businesses in order to reduce bureaucracy. At the same time, all requirements relating to food safety will remain in place.
The Act on Amendments to the Food Act (228 SE), initiated by the Government, is due to the need to reduce the administrative burden for food handlers, to use an opportunity to establish more flexible requirements for the buildings and premises of businesses and to enable marketing of food of animal origin on the basis of a notification obligation.
The aim of the Act is to provide more flexible hygiene requirements for handling food of animal origin for small businesses in order to reduce bureaucracy and to promote business development. According to the Act, the authorisation obligation is replaced by a notification obligation. This means that, in the future, businesses who are not subject to authorisation under the European Union hygiene regulations will not have to apply for authorisation. It will be sufficient that they notify of their activities by submitting a notice of economic activities.
Starting handling of food will become simpler but all requirements relating to food safety will remain in place. Food placed on the market must be safe for human health. The handler is responsible for the conformity of the food handled and the handling, and the handler is required to use all opportunities to ensure this. General food hygiene rules will remain in place in the future, and beginning food handlers and those already operating will have to comply with them regardless of the size or activity of the business. Before starting activity and submitting a notice of economic activities, a business will still have to meet the requirements for premises, employees as well as documents, and it will have to have a self-check plan.
The Act enters into force on 1 April.
During the debate, Ivari Padar (Social Democratic Party) took the floor and said that it was an important Act. Padar underlined that the Act would reduce the administrative burden and bureaucracy for those who undertake to develop business and to handle foodstuffs. He added that food hygiene rules would not change and regulations would have to be met, but bureaucratic burden would decrease.
92 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of passing the Act.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)
The video recording of the sitting will be available on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)