Subject: Egypt Establishes the National Food Safety Authority

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Issue 87, 22 February 2017

Egypt Establishes the National Food Safety Authority
With An Ambitious Mandate of Replacing & Unifying Around 17 Supervisory Agencies Overseeing Food Safety Regulation in Egypt
Recently, the Egyptian Parliament established the National Food Safety Authority (the “NFSA”) by virtue of the new law 1/2017 (the “NFSA Law”). The NFSA Law puts an obligation on the Prime Minister to issue the Executive Regulation of the NFSA Law within six months starting from the date of entry into force (11 January 2017).
Why is This Significant For the Food & Beverages Industry?
Article 2 of the issuance law of the NFSA Law states that NFSA shall exclusively assume all the responsibilities and jurisdiction of all ministries, public institutions, government agencies and municipalities in relation to supervision over the handling of foodstuff, wherever that appears in any legislation concerned with food safety. In addition, NFSA shall assume all competencies awarded to it in the NFSA Law.
According to the law, NFSA will exercise these responsibilities within one year starting from the date of the issuance of the NFSA Law, which is 10 January 2018 by virtue of a Prime Minister decree. By that time, employees working in other ministries, public entities, government agencies or municipalities, and who are in charge of food safety, shall be transferred to NFSA.
It is worth mentioning that even though NFSA has only been established for two months, it has a semi-functioning website already covering topics it will be regulating, which is a first for a newly established government agency (check it out).  That’s no wonder, since the preparation of this new agency has been in the works since 2007 with a dedicated working group in charge of rounding up all the relevant legislation and agencies in charge of food safety and suggesting the laws and new system of unification of such scattered functions and processes.
Although the website is not fully functioning yet, browsing it will give you a sense of the breadth of NFSA’s expected reach within the F&B industry.
How Will Food Safety Be Regulated Until Then?
Until NFSA assumes its responsibilities, the entities in charge of overseeing food safety will continue to function as normal. These entities include the General Department for Supervision of Food in the Ministry of Health & Population, the Veterinary Services Agency within the Ministry of Agriculture, Industrial Supervisory Agency, the Ministry of Supply, the Ministry of Interiors, the Ministry of Municipal Administration. In case of imported foodstuff, various other entities are also involved such as the General Organization for Supervision on Imports & Exports, the Agricultural Quarantine Agency, and the Veterinary Quarantine Agency.
Pre-NFSA – How is Food Safety Currently Regulated in Egypt?
Right now, food safety regulation is a mess. We are certainly hopeful that NFSA changes the food regulation framework in Egypt. Until the NFSA Law, Egypt did not have a unified regulatory authority competent to supervise food safety. Food safety in Egypt was, and until NFSA is activated still is, regulated under several legislation and is overseen by around 17 different government agencies and units. We have counted the main legislation in force and we have found them more than 40! (And we haven’t even counted any amendments, executive regulations or related decrees. Check out the attached list to get a hint of the size of legislation you are up against.)
Post-NFSA – What is NFSA’s Role in Food Safety?
When activated, NFSA will be in charge of everything to do with food safety.
The new authority enjoys a public juristic personality and is affiliated to the President of the Republic and the competent minister shall be the Prime Minister. NFSA is composed of a board of trustees, a board of directors, an executive director and the employees.
NFSA’s headquarter shall be in Cairo but it has the capacity to establish other branches.

As per Article 2 of the NFSA Law, NFSA’s mandate is “achieving the requirements of food safety in a way as to preserve human health and safety”. To this end, The new law grants NFSA the following powers and functions:

  • Supervising the handling of food and making sure all specifications and requirements set out by relevant legislation are fulfilled.
  • Setting the rules and conditions for granting validity certificates necessary for the exportation of locally produced food as well as supervising the granting of these certificates and their compliance with the aforementioned rules and conditions.
  • Licensing, inspecting and supervising food handling and the workers in these facilities to insure the compliance with the relevant laws and decrees.
  • Supervising imported and locally produced food, prohibiting the handling of food unfit for human consumption and preventing fraud and deception in food.
  • Setting the regulations and rules for food advertising and the mandatory labeling criteria.
  • Regulating the cases of approval or rejection of genetically-modified foods or foods containing components that are genetically modified or irradiated where they relate to food safety and setting the rules regulating the use of food additives, treatment catalysts and other ingredients of which food is composed and which affect its safety according to Codex Commission criteria and standards adopted by international bodies.
  • Exercising exclusively the enforcement and arrest authority in respect of crimes related to food safety without prejudice to public authorities, which enjoy general enforcement and arrest authority.
It remains to be seen how NFSA will be able to take implement such ambitious mandate and replace the various players involved.
If, like us, you are interested in following up on the achievements, and progress of the new entity as well as new legislation regulating the F&B industry, please drop us a line (by sending here) and we will add you to our initiative interacting with and monitoring the progress of the new agency.

In 2006, Jim Wright, Ahmed El Sharkawy and Karim Sarhan established Sharkawy & Sarhan. Their extensie experience and different backgrounds combined to create a firm set up to provide high quality business law services. The Firm extended rapidly to become one of the leading firms in Egypt... read more about who we are ››
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