History of Food Law: The 21st Century


The food scares of the 1990s, none more so than the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in beef, highlighted the European Commission’s inability to respond quickly and effectively in the emerging crisis. BSE is “commonly regarded as the ‘trigger’ for the reform of [the then] existing legislation and the establishing of new regulatory institutions across Europe.” Whilst the incidence of BSE was considerably higher in the UK in the years since 1987, cases throughout Europe resulted in an EU wide response.

Greater consistency, flexibility and speed of response has been achieved since 2000 through the much greater use of regulations, which are directly effective in all Member States at the same time, in place of directives which had been the main vehicle for the implementation of EU food law in the past.