The food safety authorities are bound by regulation (EC) No 882/2004 on official controls, according to which the competent authorities shall ensure the impartiality, quality and consistency of official controls at all levels (article 4 paragraph 4). Impartiality of the controls necessitates that the requirements of the food legislation are applied consistently while observing the principles of official controls. Compliance with the general requirements of the regulations calls for a risk-based approach.
The risks related to food in the enterprises usually vary depending on the extent and type of the activities of the enterprise. A risk-based approach does not, however, mean that small scale activities always would be excluded from the controls, as the production may include large risks independent of the scale of the production, and measures may always have to be taken in order to manage them. Impartiality does not mean that all enterprises would be monitored in the same way, as the extent of the controls and the steps taken may vary based on the assessment of the risks. The previous history with regards to controls also affects the risk assessment, that is the information on how well the previous activities of the enterprise have fulfilled the legislated requirements.
In order to ensure the consistency of the food controls, Finnish Food Authority compiles instructions and guidelines for the control authorities and operators in the food sector on how to apply the legislation and gives interpretations on the requirements and their control. Finnish Food Authority also organises training aimed at the control authorities and food business operators. Besides, official control is subject to audits.