Availability and safety of food ranks among the basic requirements for human beings. The importance of the food producing sector, inclusive of feed manufacturing, demands a high level of regulation and control. This paper will present and discuss the relationships in the triangle of legislation, the background of hazards with a biological nature, and opportunities for monitoring methods, most notable for prion-based diseases as primary issue. The European Union legislation for prevention of prion-based diseases since 2000 is presented and discussed. The definitions and circumscriptions of groups of species will be analysed in the view biological classification and evolutionary relationships. The state of the art of monitoring methods is presented and discussed. Methods based on visual markers (microscopy), DNA-based methods (PCR), protein-based methods (ELISA, mass spectroscopy, proteomics), near infrared oriented methods and combinations thereof are being evaluated. It is argued that the use in legislation of non-homogeneous groups of species in a biological sense will hamper the optimal design of monitoring methods. Proper definitions are considered to act as bridges between legal demands and suitable analytical methods for effective monitoring. Definitions including specified groups of species instead of single species are more effective for monitoring in a range of cases. Besides the desire of precise circumscription of animal groups targeted by legislation, processed products need well defined definitions as well. Most notable examples are blood versus blood products, and hydrolysis of several types of material. The WISE principle for harmonising the design of legislation and of analytical methods is discussed. This principle includes the elements Witful (reasonable legal principles), Indicative (clear limits between prohibition and authorisation), Societal demands (public health, environment, economy), and Enforceable (presence of suited monitoring methods) in order to promote a balanced effort for reaching the desired level of safety in the food production chain.