Food safety

In comparison to other countries, Norway has few problems with food as a disease vector. Although food safety is generally good, it requires a sustained effort to ensure that food remains safe.

That food is safe means that it does not contain microorganisms, environmental toxins or additives that negatively impact health, when food items are prepared and consumed as intended.

The concept of food safety is often mistaken for food security, which pertains everyone having access to sufficient food. 

A good system

That Norwegian food is this safe, is in part due to low incidence of plant and animal disease, but also strict rules for food handling throughout the entire production chain.

Imported food must meet the same standards as food produced in Norway.

It is important to the government that consumers have high confidence in all food on the Norwegian market and in Norwegian food production. Safe food is a key prerequisite for that trust.

Strict rules for food handling are required throughout the production chain.
Strict rules for food handling are required throughout the production chain. Credit: Torbjørn Tandberg

Good animal health is fundamental

Animals in Norway enjoy good health, one of the prerequisites for safe food. Norwegian Animal Health is the result of many years of systematic work.

There are clear rules requiring food manufacturers to be able to trace their products one step down and one step up in the production chain. A good tracking system is important in order to be able to react quickly and withdraw products from the market if problems arise.

Animals in Norway enjoy good health, one of the prerequisites for safe food.
Animals in Norway enjoy good health, one of the prerequisites for safe food. Credit: Torbjørn Tandberg

Research and know-how

Know-how and scientific evidence is essential for ensuring that the food we eat is safe.

The Scientific Committee for Food Safety delivers independent risk assessments to the FSA, which in turn works closely with Norwegian and foreign research institutions, as well as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Know-how and emergency support from institutions such as the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO), the National Health Institute and the Veterinary Institute is also essential to food safety.

International cooperation on food safety

It is also important to ensure that the food we import is safe.

Food regulations are harmonized through the EEA Treaty, and Norway is an active participant in ongoing efforts to further develop and adapt policies - in close cooperation with stakeholders in Norway.

The WTO Treaty consists of a number of binding agreements regulating international trade. In particular, it is the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary matters (SPS Treaty) which has bearing on the food sector. It regulates member countries' right to introduce measures to protect the health of people, animals and plants. 

Norway is also an active participant in the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and the World Plant Health Organization (IPPC), which sets standards, guidelines and recommendations for the protection of the population, animal and plant health, respectively.

Although food safety in Norway is generally good, it requires a permanent effort to ensure that food remains safe.
Although food safety in Norway is generally good, it requires a permanent effort to ensure that food remains safe. Credit: Colourbox