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Regulating hygiene standards for foodstuff manufacturers

By Kyriacos Kourtellos

Cyprus has recently updated its legislation on food hygiene with the enactment of Law 39(I)/2017, which governs hygiene standards for foodstuffs of plant origin, intended for human consumption, in accordance with EU legislation, particularly Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs.

The new law makes it illegal to produce foodstuffs on a commercial basis unless there is full compliance with the law and the relevant EU regulation.

It applies to the primary production stage of foods such as fruits, vegetables, sprouts, culinary herbs, nuts, edible fungi and honey products.

It does not cover production for private domestic use, the domestic preparation, handling or storage of food for private domestic consumption or the direct supply, by the producer, of small quantities of primary products to the final consumer or to local retail establishments directly supplying the final consumer.

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The new law designates the Department of Agriculture, part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, as the authority responsible for implementation of the law.

Its duties under the law include compiling and maintaining a register of producers, and carrying out inspections in order to ensure that they comply with the requirements and standards prescribed in the EU regulation.

Producers are required to apply for registration and, provided they meet the required standards, will be given a registration number.

The standards are comprehensive, and cover all aspects of production, from design, construction and layout of premises, through cleanliness of premises, equipment and personnel, training and pest control, to waste disposal.

The law authorizes inspectors appointed by the Department of Agriculture to carry out the necessary initial checks, as well as ongoing compliance checks. Inspectors have the power to enter any primary production facility at any reasonable time to carry out their duties.

A comprehensive approach is required to assure the safety of food, without any compromise, throughout the supply chain, beginning with the place of primary production up to the point of sale, with legislation based on sound scientific principles.

Kyriacos Kourtellos is Advocate / Associate in the Corporate and Commercial Department of ELIAS NEOCLEOUS & CO LLC www.neo.law

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