Animal Feed

A directive on undesirable substances and products in animal feed lays down the maximum limit for the presence of undesirable substances in animal feed put into circulation in the EU. Undesirable substances are any substance or product with the exception of pathogenic agents, which are present in or on the product intended for animal feed and which present potential danger to animal or human health or to the environment or could affect livestock production. The range of substances covered by the Directive includes arsenic, lead, mercury, DDT, dioxin and certain mustards.

A directive applies to all animal feed including raw materials for feed, additives and complementary feeding stuff. The Directive lays down a list of undesirable substances for which it sets limit values above which the presence in animal feeds is forbidden. This list is regularly updated in the light of technical progress.

When the values are exceeded, the EU states in cooperation with the operators must carry out investigations to identify the source of the substance. The Commission must be informed of the outcome of investigations and measures must be taken to reduce the substances or eliminate them.

The Directive prohibits mixing a product containing undesirable substances with the same product in order to dilute it. Where a danger to human or animal health becomes apparent, states may provisionally take more stringent measures.

The Directive on animal nutrition concerns products manufactured by certain technical processes which act as a direct or indirect protein source for animals and are put into circulation within the EU as feeding stuff. Before approval of the product, it must be ascertained whether it has the required nutritional value. It must be established that the product when used, has no detrimental effect on human or animal health or on the environment.

The products in question are listed in the annex. Provision is made for an EU  procedure to adopt provisions of the annex. There are guidelines for procedures to fix the requisite composition, purity, physio-chemical and biological properties of products in light of scientific and technological developments of knowledge.

Medicated Feed

Preparation and marketing of medicated foodstuffs for animals

This Directive lays down the rules intended to prevent distortions between the keeping and rearing of farm animals and to safeguard public health from dangers arising from the administration of medicated feedingstuffs to animals intended for food production.

Council Directive 90/167/EEC of 26 March 1990 laying down the conditions governing the preparation, placing on the market and use of medicated feedingstuffs in the Community.

The Directive provides that only authorised medicated pre-mixes may be used to manufacture medicated foodstuffs and that precise instructions must be given for the utilisation of such foodstuffs.

Producers must have adequate premises and staff whose knowledge of and qualifications in mixing technology are adequate.

Producers shall also be responsible for the quality of the products placed on the market.

Medicated foodstuffs may be placed on the market only in sealed packaging labelled in accordance with the Community provisions in force.

Medicated foodstuffs may be supplied to stockfarmers only on presentation of a prescription from a veterinarian subject to certain specific conditions.

Where medicated foodstuffs are administered to animals intended for human consumption, treated animals must not be slaughtered before the end of the legally stipulated withdrawal period.

In order to permit effective controls, those concerned must keep a register, or retain documents for a certain period.

The safeguard measures laid down by Directive 89/662/EEC and the rules on veterinary checks laid down in that Directive shall apply to trade in medicated pre-mixes.

Marketing of feed

Regulation 767/2009 simplifies the procedures for the labelling and marketing of feed. It improves the efficacy of the general system while guaranteeing a high level of protection for animal health and welfare, and for public health. This Regulation also helps to provide proper information to users concerning the true content of the feed they purchase for their animals.

Regulation (EC) No 767/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on the placing on the market and use of feed, amending European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 and repealing Council Directive 79/373/EEC, Commission Directive 80/511/EEC, Council Directives 82/471/EEC, 83/228/EEC, 93/74/EEC, 93/113/EC and 96/25/EC and Commission Decision 2004/217/EC.

This Regulation lays down rules on the placing on the market and use of feed for food-producing animals or pets. It also lays down labelling, packaging and presentation requirements.


This Regulation covers feed, i.e. any substance or product, including additives, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, intended to be used for oral feeding to animals.

It applies without prejudice to provisions in the field of animal nutrition concerning:

  • medicated feedingstuffs;
  • undesirable substances;
  • transmissible spongiform encephalopathies;
  • animal by-products not intended for human consumption;
  • genetically modified food and feed;
  • the traceability and labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs);
  • additives; and
  • the production and labelling of organic products.

Marketing and use

Animal feed shall comply with safety and marketing requirements. In particular, it shall:

  • be safe;
  • not have a direct adverse effect on the environment or animal welfare;
  • be sound, genuine, unadulterated, fit for purpose and of merchantable quality;
  • be labelled, packaged and presented in accordance with the applicable legislation; and
  • comply with the technical provisions on impurities and other chemical determinants (see Annex I to the Regulation).

Feed shall not contain materials whose placing on the market or use is restricted or prohibited (see Annex III to the Regulation).

The traceability of feed shall be guaranteed at all stages of production, processing and distribution. Feed business operators must therefore be capable of identifying any person who has provided them with feed, a food-producing animal or any substance intended or likely to be incorporated into feed.

Feed which is or is likely to be placed on the market in the European Community shall be labelled or identified appropriately in order to facilitate its traceability.

If the feed business operator considers that a feed does not meet the feed safety requirements, it shall immediately initiate the procedures for withdrawing the feed in question from the market. It shall then inform the competent authorities and users without delay.

Labelling and presentation

This Regulation establishes general provisions for the labelling and presentation of all feed, such as the obligation to indicate:

  • the type of feed;
  • the name and address of the operator;
  • the batch or lot reference number;
  • the net weight;
  • the list of additives used; and
  • the moisture content.

The labelling and presentation of feed must not mislead the user concerning the intended use or characteristics of the feed. The mandatory labelling particulars shall be clearly visible on the packaging, the container, on a label attached thereto or on the document accompanying the feed. The particulars shall be clearly legible and indelible. They shall be given in at least one of the official languages of the Member State or region in which the feed is marketed.

Specific labelling requirements are laid down for feed materials, compound feed and “dietetic” feed. All claims relating to feed must be duly justified.

The labelling of pet food shall include a telephone number for customers wishing to know more about the ingredients used.


Feed materials and compound feed shall be placed on the market in sealed packages and containers.

However, certain feed may be placed on the market in bulk or in unsealed packages or containers. This derogation concerns:

  • feed materials;
  • mixtures of grain and whole fruit;
  • deliveries between producers of compound feed;
  • compound feed delivered by the producer to the user or packaging firms;
  • quantities of compound feed not exceeding 50 kilograms in weight which are intended for the final user and are taken directly from a sealed package or container; and
  • blocks or licks.

Community Catalogue of feed materials

The Community Catalogue of feed materials is intended to improve the labelling of feed materials and compound feed. For each material listed, it includes the following particulars:

  • the name;
  • the identification number;
  • a description (including information on the manufacturing process); and
  • a glossary of definitions.

Community Codes of good labelling practice

Stakeholders are also encouraged to create Community Codes of exemplary practice in the context of optional labelling: one for pet food and one for compound feed for food-producing animals.

Requirements for feed hygiene

Supplementing the general rules on the safety and hygiene of food and feed, this proposal is designed to extend these rules to the entire animal feed chain, including primary production, by imposing a system of liability and obligations on feed business operators. This system mainly includes requirements governing the registration or approval of establishments and the production of animal feed

183/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 January 2005 laying down requirements for feed hygiene.

This Regulation requires feed business operators to comply with obligations relating to feed hygiene and traceability and the registration and approval of their establishments. The objective is to achieve a high level of protection of human and animal health, notably by ensuring that feed is safe and of good quality.


The Regulation applies to the activities of feed business operators, starting with primary production of feed * up to and including its placing on the market and imports of products intended for animal nutrition from third countries. This also includes the feeding of food-producing animals.

The following are excluded from the scope of this Regulation:

  • the private domestic production of feed for food-producing animals intended for private domestic consumption and for animals not intended for food production, and the feeding of these animals;
  • the direct supply of small quantities of primary products at local level by the producer to local farms;
  • the retailing of pet food

Obligations incumbent on operators

Feed business operators responsible for the primary production of feed must take the measures necessary to prevent, eliminate or reduce feed safety hazards during the production, preparation, cleaning, packaging, storing and transport of these products (Annex I). These operators must keep records relating to measures put in place to control contamination hazards.

Feed business operators other than at the level of primary production of feed must adopt appropriate measures to guarantee the safety of the products that they manufacture, transport or use. These measures are detailed more precisely than those concerning the primary production of feed (Annex II) and chiefly concern facilities and equipment used by the operators, staff training, the organisation and monitoring of different stages of production, and the documents which the operators must keep.

Feed business operators other than at the level of primary production of feed must apply HACCP principles (hazard analysis and critical control points) and must keep documents demonstrating that they respect these principles.

These principles prescribe a certain number of requirements to be met throughout the cycle of production, processing and distribution in order to permit, via hazard analysis, identification of the critical points which need to be kept under control in order to guarantee food safety:

  • identify any hazards that must be prevented, eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels;
  • identify the critical control points at the step or steps at which control is essential;
  • establish critical limits beyond which intervention is necessary;
  • establish and implement effective monitoring procedures at critical control points;
  • establish corrective actions when monitoring indicates that a critical control point is not under control;
  • implement own-check procedures to verify whether the measures adopted are working effectively;
  • keep records to demonstrate the effective application of these measures and to facilitate official controls by the competent authority.

Feed business operators are responsible for any infringement of the law governing feed safety. In order to prepare an effective system of financial guarantees for operators in this sector, the Commission presents a report on financial guarantees in the feed sector to the European Parliament and the Council (see “Related Acts”).

Feed business operators (including those responsible for the primary production of feed) must register their establishments with the competent authority of their Member State. They must provide the authority with up to date information and cooperate with it in the event of controls.

Where required by national or Community legislation, businesses in the food sector must be approved by the competent authority and may not operate without such approval. The competent authority of each Member State must keep a list of approved establishments. When an approved establishment no longer complies with the requirements governing its activities, the approval may be temporarily suspended or revoked.

Operators who import products from third countries must ensure that:

  • the country concerned is included in a list drawn up pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls of food and feed;
  • the supplier is entered in a list kept by the third country testifying to the firm’s conformity with Community hygiene standards or equivalent standards.

Guides to good practice

The Member States encourage the preparation of national guides to good practice in the feed sector and national guides on the application of HACCP principles. Member States must assess such national guides to ensure that their contents are practicable, that they have been developed taking into account the appropriate principles of the Codex Alimentarius and that all interested parties have been consulted. National guides deemed to be in conformity are forwarded to the Commission, which enters them in a register.

Standardised Community guides may be prepared if the Commission considers this advisable. The Standing Committee on the Food Chain ensures that the content of such guides is practicable, that they have been prepared taking into account the appropriate principles of the Codex Alimentarius, and that the national guides and all the interested parties have been consulted.


Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 constitutes the cornerstone of the new European legislation on food safety. Adopting the “from farm to table” approach, it aims, by drawing on the latest scientific opinions, to guarantee a high standard of health and safety throughout the food chain. This approach also covers the entire animal feed chain, including the primary production of feed (which is not covered by the old legislation), animal nutrition and the production of feed.

As a reaction to the recent health crises and the occurrences of contamination of animal feed and feed materials (bovine spongiform encephalopathy, dioxin, hormones, etc.), the European Union now has an appropriate legal instrument to ensure safety of all kinds of feed, to ensure that all feed businesses operate in accordance with harmonised hygiene requirements, and to improve traceability.

The Regulation repeals Directive 95/69/EC and its implementing Directive 98/51/EC.


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