Euromyths are funny things. They can be because one individual inspector gets heavy about something. They can be because EU rules are usually minimum standards and a country has chosen to go further when putting them into national law. In a few cases the myth itself is that they’re a myth, when we accept that the rules say what people say they do, even if we want to change them. And sometimes they are just total nonsense, which with 5 minutes checking would never make it out there. We had one of those this weekend, with the “news” that EU rules are stopping people eating the cakes that they enter into cake-baking contests and the like at village fairs. I will quote directly from the guidance that we issue to the national authorities that implement these rules:
Operations such as the occasional handling, preparation, storage and serving of food by private persons at events such as church, school or village fairs are not covered by the scope of the Regulation. This is made clear in recital 9 of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004. The second sentence states that: “Community rules should only apply to undertakings, the concept of which implies a certain continuity of activities and a certain degree of organisation”. The term “undertaking” is integrated in the definition of a “food business” (in accordance with Article 3(2) of the General Food Law (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002), a “food business” must be an “undertaking”). Somebody who handles, prepares, stores or serves food occasionally and on a small scale (e.g. a church, school or village fair and other situations such as organised charities comprising individual volunteers where the food is prepared occasionally) cannot be considered as an “undertaking” and is therefore not subject to the requirements of Community hygiene legislation.
So the European Commission’s view is that cakes prepared in the framework of local fairs should not be subject to the requirements of Community hygiene legislation. Which I’m very pleased about, because I love the cake stalls at fairs, particularly in the light of my cupcake problem. (The best I have ever had, for the record, were in Grand Central Station, New York. Mouth still waters at the thought of them!). I’d be interested to know how this idea made it into the Scottish Rural Women’s Institute or any other groups, because it clearly isn’t part of our rules.