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The Food Chain Act is the central legal foundation for food legislation in Hungary. Infringement of food regulations can lead to measures under criminal law and consumer damage claims under civil law, whereby the final decision rests with the courts. Government measures with regard to food safety are often based on scientific risk assessments. However, the final decision on the legality of governmental measures rests with the courts.
In Hungary, the National Food Chain Safety Office (Nébih) is responsible for risk management and short, quick risk assessment. Risk assessments are connected to individual cases that’s why they are not published.
Ministry of Agriculture
|Name||Ministry of Agriculture|
The Ministry of Agriculture (AM) has full responsibility for official controls for the whole food chain. The ministry's core tasks are international relations, strategic planning and drafting legislation in the fields of food chain safety from farm to table and supervising the control activities at the county and local levels.
The portfolio of the AM includes soil, plant health, feed, food, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), zoonoses, mineral water and drinking water. The AM also deals with residues of plant protection products and veterinary medicinal products, however the regulatory authority for pesticides and veterinary drugs is the Nébih.
The ministry formulates government measures related not only to rural development, but also to the supervision of food chain, environmental protection and the agricultural economy. The ministry's main goals are the sustainable management of natural resources, diversity of rural land use, rural development and creating conditions for the safe and high-quality production and distribution of food products.
Ministry of Interior, State Secretariat for Health
|Name||Ministry of Interior, State Secretariat for Health|
The State Secretariat for Health is responsible for determining the special rules and for the preparation of legislation related to the direction of healthcare provision on the national level. It regulates the national public healthcare tasks.
The area of competence of the Ministry of Interior (BM) covers legislation in the field of nutritional health (e.g. nutritional health aspects of mass catering) and is primarily responsible for establishing legislation on food supplements, dietetic products, infant and follow-up formulas, health and nutrition claims and nutrition labelling.
National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition
|Name||National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition|
The National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition (OGYÉI) operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior (BM). Amongst other things, the OGYÉI is responsible for the notification of food supplements, foods for particular nutritional uses (infant formulas, complementary foods, gluten-free foods, etc.), cosmetics and biocides used in the food industry and mass catering, and also conducts investigations on food supplements and foodstuffs with nutrition and health claims.
National Public Health Center
|Name||National Public Health Center|
The National Public Health Center (NNK) operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Interior (BM) and is led by the Chief Medical Officer. NNK is responsible for coordinating the official supervision of food supplements, foods for particular nutritional uses (foods for special medical purposes, infant formulas, follow-on formulas, fortified foods) and mass catering.
With regard to infectious diseases, NNK performs the duties of the microbiological National Reference Laboratory, collects and manages data on foodborne diseases and shares them with other relevant parties, e.g. NÉBIH and ECDC.
Prime Minister's Office
|Name||Prime Minister's Office|
Since 2011, the Prime Minister's Office (ME) has been responsible for funding for staffing and infrastructure and for implementation of the operational programmes.
Administratively, the County Government Offices (CGOs) are under the Prime Minister's Office. The ME has other, non-professional management powers (for example: employer rights) as regards the CGOs.
National Food Chain Safety Office
|Name||National Food Chain Safety Office|
The National Food Chain Safety Office (Nébih) is an independent legal entity with nationwide competence and responsibility operating under the direct supervision of the Minister of Agriculture. Its annual budget is allocated by the government. The Nébih has a complex structure with various horizontal and professional directorates and testing laboratories. The Nébih’s tasks cover the whole food chain, from soil to retail distribution as well as catering, in order to facilitate the safety of food and feed production with respect to animal and plant health and soil conservation. The Nébih is competent authority in the EU authorisation of novel foods.
The Risk Communication Directorate supports the activities of the competent authorities (quick risk assessments, risk communication, risk management supporting activities in the case of crisis situations; organizing simulation exercises). The directorate is the single national contact point for the Commission Service ACN (Alert and Cooperation Network: RASFF, AAC common network) and INFOSAN. The directorate is responsible for general communication and for providing early warning programs related to public awareness and education.
The Food and Feed Safety Directorate coordinates the multi-annual national control plan (MANCP). As a result of the cooperative preliminary work of the Ministry of Rural Development (now Ministry of Agriculture) and the Nébih, the Food Chain Safety Strategy 2013 – 2022 has been accepted by the government. The strategy determines the most important targets and duties connected to food chain safety, as well as provides guidance on the achievement of these desired goals. The new strategy is under drafting.
Regional and local levels
Administratively, Hungary is divided into 19 counties and Budapest.
At the county level, all authorities involved in official controls of the food chain have been merged and integrated into the County Government Offices (CGOs). Since 01 March 2020, the departments responsible for carrying out official controls in relation to food chain safety and animal health have been operating in new structures and under new names. The ME is responsible for the direction of the CGOs; the AM is responsible for the professional direction of the units responsible for food chain control. Regarding the official food chain controls, the CGOs implement the control plans following the procedures and guidelines that are all provided by Nébih and ordered by the AM.
As of 2015, there are 197 district government offices (DGOs) at the local level. At the district level, there are 82 Food Chain Safety and Animal Health Units (on average, each unit is responsible for 2–3 DGOs).
Article 36 institutions
|Institutions involved in the EFSA network pursuant to Article 36 Reg. (EC) No. 178/2002|