In principle, foodstuffs that are authorised in Switzerland are described by product-specific regulations. Products which are not specified in these regulations need authorisation from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) (article 5 (1) Swiss Regulation on Food and Commodities).

Food business operators who produce, process, treat, store, transport, distribute, import or export food have to be registered (article 12 Swiss Regulation on Food and Commodities). Enterprises that produce, process, treat or deliver food of animal origin require authorisation, in principle. Exceptions to this requirement are possible (article 13 Swiss Regulation on Food and Commodities).

The principle of self-regulation applies to food business operators, i.e. they must ensure within the businesses under their control that legal requirements relevant to their activity are met. The criteria for how this control concerning food is to be accomplished is given in the "Swiss food book", as well as instructions, information letters, and manuals from the FOPH. In the case of the distribution of unsafe food or commodities, business operators must inform the relevant authorities.

The Swiss Food Act, the Regulation on Food and Commodities, and other pertinent regulations, form the basis for the execution and implementation of food law. The Federation is responsible for food control at the border. The Cantons execute the food act and provide for food control within Switzerland as far as the federation is not responsible. Administrative controls take place regularly, with appropriate frequency, and usually without advance notice. Administrative control does not replace the tasks and obligations that are to be fulfilled in the context of the personal responsibility of business operators.