The goal of this paper is to frame the effect of regulatory burdens in a research outline which enables the study of their effect on the competitiveness of the food and drinks industry, especially the European dairy sector. A firm perspective is used. We address the basic structure and tendencies in the food sector, the regulatory role of regulatory burdens and their effect on competitiveness. A theoretical foundation is provided by transaction cost economics and total quality management insights. The effects of legislation on administrative costs and competitiveness are mediated by impacts on innovativeness, company strategy, food safety system availability, as well as the available information & communication capabilities. Building on a previous studies showing the negative impact of administrative requirements on competitiveness, this paper focuses at expanding the available research framework and to adjust it to sector (i.e. dairy) specifics. We will connect to previous research (Wijnands et al., 2007) which, among others, generated the following generic results: - administrative burdens are connected to prevention measures; - administrative burdens impede on the innovativeness of food companies; - administrative burdens are influenced by the content of law and by the predictability and clearness of regulations.