On 11 November 2013, new legal provisions regulating the procedure for the certification of traditional products have been published in the Official Gazette of Romania. These provisions have been jointly issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (“MADR”), the Ministry of Health and the National Authority for Consumer Protection by way of three separate orders, which have the same contents (collectively, the “Orders”). The Orders will enter into force on 11 December 2013, at which point the legislation currently regulating this matter, i.e. Order no. 690/2004 issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Rural Development, will be repealed.
The main changes imposed by the Order relate to the following:
Definition of “traditional product”
The Order introduces a narrower definition of “traditional product” as opposed to the current wording. Under the Order, a traditional product is a food product that complies, among others, with the following additional requirements:
- the food product must be manufactured in Romania;
- it must result from using local, raw materials; and
- it must not contain any food additives.
Certain elements of the certification procedure of a traditional product have been amended:
- More information needs to be provided in the application for the certification of a traditional product such as those indicating the following: (i) that the name of the food product is unique, distinguishing it from similar products pertaining to the same product category; (ii) that the raw materials and any ingredients used in the manufacturing process do not contain any food additives, colorants, flavors, aromas, vitamins, minerals or sweeteners; and (iii) that the volume of the manufactured product is within the thresholds prescribed by the Order.
- MADR is granted an extended role, allowing it to conduct its own examination of the relevant documentation, which seems to be distinct from the initial verifications conducted at local level by the entities subordinated to MADR
- MADR is the decision-making authority in relation to whether or not the food product may be certified as traditional product
- Once it has been established that the traditional product complies with the provisions of the Order, MADR will issue a certificate in the form expressly provided by the Order
Placing certified traditional products on the market
It is the obligation of the vendors of traditional products to make copies of the certificates reflecting registration of those products in the National Register of Traditional Products (formerly the Registry for the certification of traditional products) clearly visible to consumers in their stores or other venues where such products are sold.
Also, once a certified traditional product has been placed on the market, its compliance with the applicable regulations will be subject to further verification by MADR, the Ministry of Health and the National Authority for Consumer Protection, all of which have been granted controlling powers in this regard by the Order, including conducting dawn-raids at the manufacturers’ premises and access to documents and information as they may request. Administrative sanctions may be applied, such as (i) the annulment of the traditional product certificate, (ii) the removal of the product from the National Register of Traditional Products, and (iii) the withdrawal of the traditional product logo.
In addition to the general elements provided in the legislation applicable to food products, the labels of certified traditional products must also include (i) the specific national logo provided by the Order; and (ii) the registration number of the respective product in the National Register of traditional products.
Pursuant to the Order, traditional product certificates granted before the Order became effective will expire automatically after 9 months from the date the Order came into force. Therefore, new certificates must be obtained for those products, following the procedure provided in the Order and subject to the requisites therein.