October 19, 2022 marks the completion of the legislative procedure in Romania regarding the Milk and Milk Products Law Project, as the Chamber of Deputies, in its capacity of decision-making chamber voted on the Law on Milk and Milk Products.
Who will be impacted by the Milk and Milk Products Law?
The scope of the Milk and Milk Products Law includes all economic operators in the milk and milk products sector. In particular, the text of the law expressly indicates that the scope also includes economic operators registered with National Veterinary Sanitary and Food Safety Authority (Romanian ANSVSA) and that sell milk products through commercial networks.
Agricultural producers and natural persons who obtain agricultural products on their own farm/household, which exceed their own consumption needs and are intended for sale on the market under the law, are exempt from the regime imposed by the provisions of the Law on Milk and Milk Products.
What will be the main requirements established by the Milk and Milk Products Law?
According to its provisions, once the Milk and Milk Products Law enters into force, economic operators must ensure that:
- The registration of mandatory information regarding the labeling of drinking milk and milk products is carried out in full compliance with the provisions of Regulation (UE) no. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (“Regulation no. 1169/2011”).
We note that from our perspective, this requirement appears to be redundant since Regulation no. 1169/2011 is directly applicable in national legislation.
- “General principles of food information, general food information requirements” are complied with.
- Respectsthe general ban on labeling milk and milk products with the phrase “Romanian Product“. Such a phrase is allowed to be used in labeling only for products obtained on the national territory from basic raw materials originating 100% from farms in Romania.
It appears unclear, at least at this moment, if the requirement for the existence of the Romanian flag on the product label is added to the above requirements. The uncertainty derives from the reference made by the Law on Milk and Milk Products to the provisions of Law no. 168/2017 regarding the establishment of October 10 – the national day of Romanian agri-food products, without any other explanatory mentions of any nature.
- Milk-based products with the addition of other fats and/or proteins, other than milk products, are marketed in a well-defined presentation and sales area, on separate shelves, compared to genuine milk and milk products, with explicit information to the buyer of the contents of these products.
It should be emphasized here that the Law on Milk and Milk Products expressly establishes that the above provisions also apply to menus and recipes of dishes, pastry, pizzeria, fast food and confectionery products, culinary products from public food, in the preparation of which milk-based products with added fat and/or protein, other than milk products, were used.
Moreover, the normative act expressly establishes, in the charge of public food establishments, the obligation to ensure the inclusion, in the menus, of all milk products manufactured with fats and/or proteins, other than milk products used as such or in combinations or as ingredients in the basic products used in the recipes.
- The products that fall under the scope of the normative act are sold under a name that corresponds to the nature, genus, species, assortment or properties of the food or the raw materials used in manufacturing.
What sanctions can be imposed? What complementary measures can emerge?
We consider relevant to note the way the distribution of responsibility along the supply chain is regulated.
Thus, the Law on Milk and Milk Products establishes that any non-conformity detected by the competent control authorities will be notified directly to the economic operator under whose name the food product is marketed.
The sanctions regulated by the Milk Law, both the main ones but especially the complementary ones, are quite harsh. Violations of the legal requirements will be sanctioned with a fine from 20,000 lei to 50,000 lei, as well as with complementary measures consisting of the temporary stoppage of marketing of defective products and, as the case may be, “suspension of the processing/production/marketing authorization” for a period of 30 days.
Moreover, repeated violations will lead, according to the law, to the “annulment of the processing/production/marketing authorization of the economic operator”.
About the competence to detect contraventions and apply sanctions, the text of the law only indicates that this will be done by the authorized personnel of the competent authorities with control powers in the field, but without specifically indicating what they are.
Another novelty of the Law on Milk and Milk Products resides in the establishment of the Milk and Milk Products Observatory within the specialized technical direction of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which will be the liaison body with the Milk Market Observatory of the European Union and to which it is granted the role of monitoring the milk market (cow, buffalo, sheep, goat) and the milk products market, centralizing market data and analyzing production trends, the balance between demand and supply, as well as production costs in Romania.
On an in-principle analysis, we consider that the text of the Law on Milk and Milk Products presents a series of deficiencies in terms of compliance with the principles and norms of legislative technique. We will continue to monitor and reflect in our briefings on how these legal requirements will be interpreted and implemented by the competent authorities.
Note: At the time of writing this informative material, the form of the Law on Milk and Milk Products as submitted for promulgation was made public. The normative act was not promulgated and was not published in the Official Journal. All references made in this material to the Law of Milk and Milk Products shall be read as references to the form submitted for the promulgation of the Law of Milk and Milk Products.
 Details regarding the legislative procedure at the Chamber of Deputies can be consulted here: http://www.cdep.ro/pls/proiecte/upl_pck2015.proiect?idp=18615.
The Romanian version of our digest is available HERE.