The mass production and distribution of the food supply system have led not only to opportunities for contamination but also to larger outbreaks. Intensive agriculture and animal husbandry practices have led to increased contamination of raw foodstuffs and increased use of pesticides and veterinary drugs. Potentially contaminated food is internationally traded and imported. Longer food chains as a result of urbanization offer greater opportunities for contamination and for the growth and survival of contaminants. The number of food service establishments in which food handlers do not necessarily have any training in food hygiene has increased rapidly.
Concerning people's social situation, behaviour and lifestyles, there is evidence of increased consumption of food outside the home, increased travel and exposure to unsafe food, changes in food preparation habits, poverty and lack of education, lack of time, striving to increase economic profit, and lack of training and education of food handlers.
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is a scientific and systematic approach to identifying, assessing and controlling hazards during the production, processing, manufacturing, preparation and use of food, to ensure that it does not present an unacceptable risk to health. The system has been promoted throughout Europe, and in some countries food control agencies have required the food industry to use HACCP-based systems.
The Global Environment Monitoring System – Food Contamination Monitoring and Assessment Programme (GEMS/Food) is the only international source of health-oriented, population-based information on human exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals in food. In 1992, GEMS/Food-EURO was established to reflect the specific needs and priorities of countries in the European Region. In 1993, the European Council unanimously adopted directive 93/43/EEC on the hygiene of foodstuffs, which has been fully implemented in the EU countries.