In April 2016 the Romanian Parliament passed a law which includes additional requirements for labelling fresh milk for consumption and dairy products (the "Law"). The Law has just been promulgated by the Romanian President, but in order to come into force it also requires the approval of the European Commission (it will come into force 90 days after such approval).
The Law sets out the mandatory information to be displayed on the labels of fresh milk for consumption and of dairy products, adding to the labelling requirements set forth by the EU Regulation no. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers ("FIR").
Scope of application
The Law applies to products traded in Romania, without making any further distinction in this respect.
The Law sets forth the type of particulars to be displayed on labels and introduces criteria for "natural products" and "Romanian products".
Information to be displayed on labels
The following particulars must be displayed on labels clearly and in a manner that they are easily readable, on a field of vision (i.e. which represents the surfaces of the package that are readable from a single angle):
- the name of the product;
- the list of ingredients;
- the net quantity;
- the date of minimum durability or the ‘use by’ date;
- any special storage conditions and/or conditions for use;
- the country of origin or place of provenance of the crude milk, raw material for consumption;
- the name of the packager and identification mark;
- the name, business name and address of the milk processor;
- the nutrition declaration;
- the content of fat as a percentage;
- the used thermal processing, pasteurised, sterilised, ultra-pasteurised.
The Law further states that the information listed shall be supplemented with the provisions of FIR, as applicable.
For products from animals other than dairy cows, the species of the animal must be indicated as well.
In addition, any content modification to the milk (such as enrichment with milk proteins, mineral salts or vitamins, reduction of the lactose content to glucose and galactose) must be indicated on the label.
Furthermore, if the milk products contain powder milk, a warning regarding the percentage of the powder milk must be indicated.
Designation as natural product
In order to use the wording "natural product" on the label, the product must contain 100% crude milk, without any milk replacements or powder milk included.
Designation as Romanian product
A product may be labelled "Romanian product" only if it contains 100 % raw milk from Romanian farms.
Failure to comply with the provisions of the Law in respect of the designation as a natural product and Romanian product, as well as in respect of indicating the powder milk percentage may trigger administrative fines of up to RON 20,000, unless the action is considered a criminal offence under criminal law.
Production, display for sale and / or sale of fresh milk for consumption, knowing that it is obtained from milk replacements, is sanctioned with an administrative fine of up to RON 25,000 and withdrawal of the operating permit of the producer or trader for six months.
In practice, the Law will likely have a significant impact on the processors in the milk industry at logistical, operational and financial levels.
The Law adds to the provisions of FIR, containing more restrictive conditions in respect of labelling. Whether these additions are justified and in line with EU regulations will remain to be seen as the European Commission must approve the Law in order to come into force.