The Parliament adopted at second reading the new Food Law without debate. The draft was approved at first reading at the end of October 2017.
It lays down the general requirements for food safety, for food business operators and for food production, processing and distribution establishments. The level of sanctions imposed for violations of the law is also being increased.
The competent authorities for control at national level shall be the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BABH) and the Regional Health Inspectorates of the Ministry of Health (for mineral and spring waters).
It is envisaged that BABH shall maintain a public national register of the business operators and the establishments for production, processing and distribution of food and food additives, as well as of the business operators and the establishments for production of bottled natural mineral and spring waters.
The main requirements for the packaging, labelling and advertising of food are regulated. The indication “Product from Bulgaria” shall be affixed to foods when the main ingredient used for their production is obtained on the territory of Bulgaria and all stages of the production process are carried out in the country. The indication may be accompanied by a geographical map or another symbol containing information that the food has been produced on the territory of Bulgaria.
The Law prohibits a business operator, through advertisements or other forms of commercial communication involving children, to advertise genetically modified foods and foods that are subject to regulatory restrictions on use by children; as well as foods that contain nutrients and substances with nutritional or physiological effects that do not meet the requirements for healthy nutrition in accordance with the regulations. In case of violation of the prohibition, a provision is made for a fine or a penalty payment from BGN 2,000 to BGN 3,000.
For performing an activity without registration in the registers a fine or a penalty payment from BGN 2,000 to BGN 4,000 shall be imposed. For a business operator, the penalty shall range from BGN 4,000 to BGN 6,000. The same penalty shall be imposed in case of non-compliance with the specified hygiene requirements, as well as in case of failure to allow the inspection bodies on site, failure to submit documents and obstruction of their duties, including taking samples.
For the first time, the requirements for the distance marketing of food are regulated. Vehicles for the transport of foods of animal origin and foods such as flour, bread, and confectionery shall be registered. The registration shall be certified with a sticker.
The establishment of a National Food Council is also envisaged as a permanent advisory body to assist the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.