is the official name of an oval-shaped symbol found on milk and meat products required by European Community food safety laws. It identifies the processing establishment that produced and packaged the product and that is therefore responsible for its hygiene status.
The health mark contains
- the name of the country in which the product was processed, or its country code (AT, BE, BG, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, EL, FR, FI, HU, IE, IT, LT, LU, LV, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SE, SI, SK, UK);
- the national approval number of the facility where the food was processed;
- the letters EC for European Community (sometimes also the older EEC for European Economic Community), or their equivalents in other EU languages.
The health mark is not an indication for the origin of the food, as it does not encode the location of the farm that provided the raw product.
Health marks are primarily meant as a monitoring aid for food-safety and customs inspectors. Some consumers also use them to identify the actual manufacturers behind supermarket own brand products, where the labeling deliberately lacks any information about the real producer.