Supervising and monitoring the food sector

The government has taken measures to improve food safety and reliability. Food that is safe can be eaten without any ill effects.

Safe and reliable food

In recent years there have been a number of food scandals in the Netherlands. Notably, horsemeat was sold as beef. There was another scare when hundreds of people became ill after eating salmon contaminated with salmonella. These incidents have undermined public confidence in the food industry.

That’s why the government has taken measures to improve the supervision of food production. Supervision and monitoring is carried out by the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

Monitoring meat and meat products

Many people eat meat every day. On average, they eat around 40 kg of meat per year. Livestock always carry some bacteria and germs. Laws guarantee the quality and safety of foods of animal origin.

Extra supervisory measures

The government has taken extra measures following the various scandals involving meat and meat products:

  • Stricter supervision of the meat sector. The NVWA takes immediate action in the case of violations, abuses of the law and health hazards. 
  • Where necessary, the NVWA has strengthened its inspection teams. Inspectors are also making more unannounced visits.
  • The NVWA is working with the Public Prosecution Service, the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) and Customs to tackle meat fraud more effectively. International investigation agencies like Europol and Interpol are also involved.
  • The government has resumed full responsibility for certification and inspection in the meat sector.
  • Companies that violate food laws can incur heavy penalties.
  • The NVWA website provides more information about its role in supervising the companies in the meat and meat products industries.

Food companies: approval, licensing and registration

Adequate ventilation, clean toilets and a moderate ambient temperature – these are a few of the requirements for businesses in the EU that produce, distribute and supply food. In the Netherlands, these companies must register with the NVWA or apply to it for an operating licence or accreditation. The NVWA is responsible for monitoring hazards that may occur in companies’ operations. If a company fails to meet all of the requirements, the NVWA withdraws its licence or registration. It is then banned from producing, storing or selling food.

There are also EU laws on importing livestock from outside the EU.

Import and registration of livestock (EU regulations)

The authorities must respond fast to outbreaks of animal diseases or health hazards caused by contaminated meat. To do this, they need to know exactly where livestock are kept. That’s why the EU requires farmers to register their cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. The data are recorded in the central database of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (