As of 20 October 2016, new legal provisions are in place in Romania setting out how consumers should be informed of products that use frozen foods in their preparation. In this respect, the consumer protection authority enacted Order 183/2016 ("Order 183") published in the Official Gazette on 20 September 2016. The document's provisions set out the requirements for adequate consumer information, which need to be observed by:
- economic operators that sell bread, baked products, and pastry products obtained from frozen food products (the "operators") in Romania; and
- mass caterers that use frozen food in the preparation of their menu items (the "caterers").
According to Order 183, the term "frozen food" includes the following categories of products: bread and baked products, pastry products, meat / products of animal origin, vegetables and fruit.
Mass caterers are defined in EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, as any establishment (including a vehicle or a fixed or mobile stall), such as restaurants, canteens, schools, hospitals and catering enterprises in which, in the course of a business, food is prepared to be ready for consumption by the final consumer.
According to Order 183, operators and caterers have to inform consumers through a notice placed in a conspicuous place, which is legible and, where appropriate, permanent. For instance a label or sticker on the packaging, or another surface on the product, and the label should read "frozen/from frozen product".
Order 183 is based on the need to ensure that the consumer receives better information regarding products on sale, since consumers can be misled when they cannot tell which of the products were frozen and, later, defrosted.
In the future, we expect authorities to increase the frequency of inspections aimed at ensuring the observance of the new regulations, since Order 183 clearly states that authorities can carry out inspections whenever they deem necessary.