Effective national food control systems are essential for food security, public health, consumer protection and international trade. However, in many countries, food control systems are unable to ensure an adequate supply of safe food for domestic consumers or to meet international sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for food exports. Capacity building is recommended in response to these concerns. This guide has been developed by FAO to enhance the results and impacts of food safety capacity building activities in the future. It sets out a simple five-step process to systematically assess the capacity building needs of the entire food control system. Each step incorporates a number of key questions to facilitate the assessment, as well as practical tips to support those carrying it out. More detailed guidance including survey questionnaires, key questions for discussion, checklists of capacity and capacity building needs, are annexed as resource material.