The Prime Minister issued Decree No. 412/2019 promulgating the Executive Regulation of Law 1/2017 (the “Law”) regulating the National Food Safety Authority (“NFSA”).
NFSA is established to be the central regulatory authority responsible for food monitoring and safety in Egypt. It is an independent authority reporting directly to the President.
The Executive Regulation of the Law (“Executive Regulations”) was issued on 18 February 2019. It sets out NFSA’s authorities as well as the licensing and compliance requirements that should be observed and followed by food facilitates.
NFSA will be exclusively competent to inspect and monitor food to ensure that it is produced, distributed, marketed, consumed, imported from, or exported to Egypt according to the standards of food safety and hygiene. NFSA has been granted several authorities, including among others the following:
- Licensing, inspecting and supervising the handling of food.
- Granting compliance certificates necessary for the exportation of locally produced food.
- Issuing the mandatory rules for food safety and hygiene.
- Controlling and inspecting the imported food.
- Issuing the rules and regulations relating to advertising and labeling food products.
- Regulating the use of food additives and substances.
What is considered to be “food” in the context of the Law?
The Law and its Executive Regulations have introduced several important definitions, including among others, the definition of the term ‘Food’.
‘Food’ is defined broadly as any product or substance intended for human consumption, whether primary, raw, uncooked, wholly or partially processed, semi-processed or not processed, including beverages, bottled water, water added to food, and any substance including water and gum.
The definition of ‘food’ however excludes the following:
- Animal fodder, plants and crops before harvest.
- Live animals and birds prior to their transport to slaughterhouses.
- Sea creatures and farm-raised fish prior to fishing.
- Pharmaceutical products and cosmetics.
- Tobacco and its products.
- Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
Licensing Food Handling
All food facilities are now required to obtain a license from NFSA before handling any food in the market. The granting of such license will be according to the procedures, requirements and fees to be determined by NFSA’s board of directors.
The term ‘food handling’ covers any operation of food production, manufacturing, offering, displaying for sale, storing, preserving, wrapping, transporting, delivering, importing or exporting; or licensing or approving any of these activities.
As per the Law, food facilities mean any facility practicing any of the abovementioned activities, whether it is a standing or mobile facility, profitable or unprofitable, public or private, permanent or temporary, including slaughterhouses.
Special, Irradiated and Genetically Modified Foods
NFSA is responsible for registering and licensing the handling of special foods, irradiated foods and genetically modified foods.
Special foods are defined under NFSA Law as any food prepared or formulated to meet special nutritional or medical requirements, as determined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission1, including infant nutrition and baby formula, products prepared for weight loss or gain, tonics and appetizers.
Irradiated foods are defined as those subject to ionizing radiation in order to, among other things, control foodborne pathogens, reduce microbial load and insect infestation, inhibit the germination of root crops, or extend the durable life of perishable vegetables.
Currently existing food facilities are required to:
- Submit a request to NFSA to adjust its position to comply with the rules standard put by NFSA’s board of directors and get the required licenses.
- Notify NFSA with all their affiliated facilities and to keep it updated with all information relating thereto, including changes in its activities or closure of any of the existing facilities.
Codex Alimentarius Commission is defined under NFSA Law as a body affiliated to the United Nations, established by an agreement between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health organization (WHO) in 1963. It issues food standards and constitutes a referral body to the World Trade Organization (WTO) during disputes between member states. ↩