Among the constantly evolving measures aimed at consumer protection and health is the introduction of maximum permitted levels of trans-fatty acids ("TFA") in foodstuffs. Slovenia has joined certain other (EU) countries, which already restricted the content of TFA in food, by adopting new rules laying down maximum permitted levels of TFA in foodstuffs (Pravilnik o največji dovoljeni vsebnosti transmaščobnih kislin v živilih, "TFA Rules").
Following the notification procedure at the European Commission in accordance with Directive (EU) 2015/1535 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 September 2015, the TFA Rules were adopted on 19 March 2018 and published a day later.
The TFA Rules shall apply as of 4 April 2018 with a one-year transition period.
Maximum levels and scope of application
The maximum permitted TFA level in foodstuffs is 2 g per 100 g of total fat content in the foodstuff applying to the following products (prepackaged and non-prepackaged):
- vegetable oils, fats and fat emulsions; and
- foodstuffs containing such oils, fats and fat emulsions.
Animal oils and fats as well as foodstuffs in which the content of TFA is the result of their natural presence in animal oils and fats forming an integral part of these foods are explicitly excluded from the application of the TFA Rules.
Who will have to observe the TFA Rules?
The TFA Rules apply to all relevant foodstuffs marketed in Slovenia, regardless of their country of origin.
That said, all manufacturers of products containing TFA, either based in another EU Member State or a third country, who market or intend to market their products in Slovenia, are obliged to follow the TFA Rules.
Non-compliant products on the market prior to the TFA Rules
The entry into force of the TFA Rules on 4 April 2018 does not mean that all products already placed on the Slovenian market that do not comply with the TFA Rules need to be removed.
A one-year transition period, under which non-compliant foodstuffs placed on the market prior to the enforcement of the TFA Rules may be sold until stock depletion and until 4 April 2019 at the latest, will apply.
From 4 April 2019 onwards, all foodstuffs containing TFA and marketed in Slovenia must comply with the TFA Rules requirements.
Increased inspection procedures
A recent national research project revealed an increase in the use of TFA as well as the presence of high levels of TFA in certain products in the past years, particularly baked goods. Increased inspection procedures and regular compliance checks are thus expected.
Demonstrable non-compliance with TFA Rules can result in fines of up to EUR 10,000 per breach. If food safety is concerned, non-compliance may also trigger fines under other regulations. In certain cases, inspectors also have the authority to prohibit the marketing of non-compliant products.