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European regulations and the Dutch Food and Commodities Act are the central legal foundations for food legislation in the Netherlands. 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.
Based on the Dutch “Independent Risk Assessment Act” from 2006, risk assessment and risk management are largely institutionally separated. Risk assessments are published on the Internet unless there are statutory provisions that prohibit it.
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
|Name||Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport|
The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) pursues a ‘good food’ policy mainly based on recommendations and guidelines prepared by the Health Council of the Netherlands. VWS is responsible for health policy and safety of food of non-animal origin and prepares draft legislation in this area. VWS bases risk management measures on risk assessments conducted by the Office for Risk Assessment and Research (BuRO), an independent unit within the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). The VWS portfolio includes food supplements, novel foods, mineral water, drinking water, botanicals, residues of plant protection products and veterinary medicinal products and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food of non-animal origin segment. Its area of work extends beyond the field of food safety to cosmetics and consumer products.
Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality
|Name||Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality|
The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) is responsible for agricultural policy and safety of food of animal origin (i.e. during primary production by farmers, growers and fishermen). LNV prepares draft legislation in this area and ensures the traceability of food of animal origin.
In the Netherlands, it is the responsibility of the food producers to ensure safe foods and to conduct appropriate day-to-day quality controls. The government supervises this self-control system (“supervising the supervisor”).
LNV bases risk management measures on risk assessments prepared by the Office for Risk Assessment and Research (BuRO), an independent unit within the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).
The portfolio of LNV includes zoonoses, GMOs and residues of plant protection products and veterinary medicinal products in animal feed. The area of work of LNV extends beyond food safety to plant health, plant protection, animal health and animal welfare. LNV is the regulatory authority for plant protection products and veterinary medicinal products.
Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority
|Name||Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority|
The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) is an independent agency in LNV and a delivery agency to VWS. In April 2010, three authorities (VWA, PD (National Plant Protection Organization, NPPO) and AID) were merged into one authority named NVWA. NVWA has been operating as a single authority since January 2012. The three main tasks of NVWA are the implementation and supervision of food safety control and inspection activities, risk assessment and risk communication. NVWA is also responsible for incident and crisis management, including technical and scientific support and advising LNV and VWS on risks. Within NVWA, risk management is functionally separated from risk assessment.
NVWA has small support offices in the country to provide logistical support to the inspectors. In addition, the number of laboratories has been reduced to two laboratories in Zwijndrecht and Groningen for product safety, and one in Wageningen for plant health (National Reference Centre (NRC) - Plant Health, National Plant Protection Organisation, pursuant to Official Controls Regulation (2017/625/EU)). NRC in NVWA coordinates the European Reference Laboratories (EURLs) for Bacteriology and Virology.
NVWA also has an Intelligence and Investigation Service (NVWA-IOD) that focusses on organised and international crime.
NVWA has access to several National Reference Laboratories in the field of food safety, pursuant to Official Controls Regulation (2017/625/EU).
The area of work of the NVWA extends beyond the field of food safety to animal health, animal welfare, plant health and non-food consumer products.
The independent Office for Risk Assessment and Research (BuRO) conducts risk assessments and advises the ministers of LNV and VWS on food and consumer product safety and on animal health and welfare. BuRO is a scientific unit that is independent, and its scientific opinions are free of political, social or scientific interests. BuRO also identifies new health risks, prepares risk reduction recommendations, and recommends preventive measures to ensure food and feed safety. Another main area for BuRO is the transparent communication with the public. BuRO is active in the areas of food safety, novel foods, food supplements, GMOs, zoonoses, animal feed, animal health, veterinary medicinal products, animal welfare, residues of plant protection products, plant health and non-food consumer products.
Wageningen Bioveterinary Research
|Name||Wageningen Bioveterinary Research|
Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) is an independent research organisation. WBVR operates in the field of veterinary science and contributes to protecting the health of animals and humans by undertaking research and making recommendations on animal diseases (zoonoses). WBVR is part of Wageningen UR.
Wageningen Food Safety Research
|Name||Wageningen Food Safety Research|
Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR) is an independent research institute in the field of food and feed safety and human health. WFSR was established in June 2019 and is a combination of the RIKILT- Institute of Food Safety and the Laboratory for Feed and Food Safety of NVWA. WFSR conducts research on substances in food of plant or animal origin and animal feed. WFSR is part of Wageningen UR.
Institute for Public Health and the Environment
|Name||Institute for Public Health and the Environment|
The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) is an independent research organisation. RIVM is a recognised leading centre of excellence in the area of health, nutrition and environmental protection.
Several National Reference Laboratories and a European Reference Laboratory are hosted by RIVM, WBVR and WFSR.
Regional and local levels
The Netherlands is divided in 12 provinces and 355 municipalities. Food and feed inspections are coordinated from the central seat in Utrecht and supported by regional NVWA offices.
Article 36 institutions
|Institutions involved in the EFSA network pursuant to Article 36 Reg. (EC) No. 178/2002|