What does the latest Food Act amendment mean for consumers and businesses?

The Czech Act on Food and Tobacco Products No. 110/1997 Coll. (“Food Act”) has been recently amended and most of the changes became effective as of 12 May 2021.

The amendment implements new EU regulations and also amends other laws, including Regulations of Advertising Act (No. 40/1995 Coll.), Public Procurement Act (No. 134/2016 Coll.), and Act on Banks (No. 21/1992 Coll.). It brings significant changes, such as a ban on so-called dual food-quality, stricter conditions for designation of “Czech Food” and regulation of food containing edible insects. It is thus important for food business operators as well as consumers.

Ban on dual food-quality

Dual food-quality has been widely discussed on the Czech market as consumers often felt “betrayed” by brands that used to sell allegedly the same products with a different (worse) quality level than in other EU countries. Consumers thus welcome the newly introduced dual food-quality ban, which means that it is prohibited to market food seemingly identical to food placed on the market in other EU Member States, when food placed on the Czech market has significantly different composition or characteristics. An exemption applies if it would be justified by legitimate and objective facts, and provided that the food is marked by easily accessible and adequate information on the different composition or characteristics.

Fines for non-compliance may amount to CZK 50 million (approx. EUR 1.96 million) and may be imposed by the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority (“CAFIA”). CAFIA has already issued its commentary on dual food-quality and a working paper on the basic principles of inspections (available here in Czech language).

The use of the label “česká potravina” (“Czech Food”) for meat

For the use of such label, it is newly required that animals from which food is produced are born and raised in the Czech Republic. This will be required in addition to the previous requirement that 100% of the components of unprocessed food, primary production, slaughter of animals and all stages of production take place in the Czech Republic.

Transitional provisions

Non-complying food placed on the market or labelled before the date of entry into force of the amendment, which was in accordance with the Food Act prior to the date of entry into force of the amendment, may be sold until stocks are exhausted.

CAFIA’s new competence in relation to e-shops

CAFIA will have a new inspection competence related to the placing on the market or putting into circulation food, agricultural products or tobacco products by distance selling (typically via the internet). Banks will be newly required to provide CAFIA (upon its request) with a bank account number or another unique identifier and details for identifying the inspected person.

Advertising of health-targeting products

Advertising of a health-targeting product that is neither a medicinal product, a medical device, an in vitro diagnostic medical device, nor a food for special medical purposes, indicating that the product is a medicinal product, a medical device, an in vitro diagnostic medical device, or food for special medical purposes, will be prohibited. Food for special medical purposes will be newly added to this list.

Other interesting changes

In addition to manufacturers, importers and distributors, traceability duties related to tobacco products are extended to retailers.

Tobacco-free nicotine sachets and food products containing edible insects are two newly regulated areas, which have not yet been governed by the Food Act.

The amendment of the Public Procurement Act will enable public contracting authorities to favour local food by stipulating a condition of local/regional food from short supply chains to be delivered within tenders for food delivery. This change will come into force on 1 January 2022.

However, the proposed introduction of quotas on the mandatory share of Czech food in large stores is not a part of the final amendment to the Food Act.

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