Amendments to Regulation 853/2004 on food hygiene allow freezing meat at retail for the purpose of food donation

The Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/1374 amending Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on specific hygiene requirements for food of animal origin, has been published on 20 August 2021 (date of effect: 9 September 2021). The Regulation is available in all EU languages.

In order to facilitate the safe redistribution of meat by Food Banks and other charities, the abovementioned Regulation allows freezing of meat at retail under certain conditions:

  • in the case of meat for which a ‘use by’ date is applied in accordance with Article 24 of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers, before the expiry of that date;
  • without undue delay to a temperature of -18 C or lower;
  • ensuring that the date of freezing is documented and provided either on the label or by other means;
  • excluding meat that has been frozen before (defrosted meat); and,
  • in accordance with any condition laid down by the competent authorities for freezing and further use as food.

Earlier this year, Commission Regulation (EU) 2021/382 of 3 March 2021 also introduced amendments (to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs) to promote and facilitate safe food donation practices.

The changes made to Annex II of the Regulation include a new chapter on food redistribution that addresses how the ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates shall be applied in the context of food redistribution while not jeopardising food safety and which aspects shall be taken into account when assessing food safety.

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