New regulation for food products: the 'Serbian quality' designation
The Decree on Designation of Agricultural and Food Products with the National Designation of Enhanced Quality 'Serbian Quality' came into force on November 12 2016. The decree specifies for the first time the conditions that must be fulfilled for a food product to bear the brand-new 'Serbian quality' designation.
The new designation (shown below) contains the words 'Serbian quality' and a stylised version of Serbia’s heraldic symbol. There are several variants: Cyrillic and Latin script versions, and a version in English. There is even a slightly puzzling abbreviated version, Serbi.Q, which rhymes with 'barbeque' – one of Serbia’s best-loved foods.
The designation 'Serbian quality' may be applied to processed food products (ie, packaged and labelled argricultural and food products intended for human consumption) under the following conditions:
- Their characteristics, manner of production or raw materials and ingredients must clearly distinguish them from other products in the same category (this will be defined in a specification defining the special charactersistics – ie, the product's 'higher quality' or 'added value').
- They must be produced from raw materials originating in Serbia.
According to the decree, the designation is intended for products from the categories of dairy, meat, fruit and vegetables, grain and honey. It is not intended to designate spirits, wine and aromatised wine.
In order to apply to use the 'Serbian quality' designation on food products, the association of producers (or a producer representing the association) must file an application with the Ministry of Agriculture, together with a specification of the name and characteristics of the product and an excerpt from the Register of Companies for the association. The ministry will also require a certificate proving that the products comply with the higher quality specification, which will be issued by an accredited certifying authority. The ministry will publish a list of authorised users of the 'Serbian quality' designation, as well as the special characteristics of those products on its website.
While it is clear that products labelled with the new designation must be produced from basic raw materials originating in Serbia, it is less clear exactly which special characteristics they must possess or how these will be evaluated. The decree indicates that the special characteristics are "physical, chemical, microbiological and organoleptic properties of the product, or its production method, or specific conditions that must be fulfilled during production". It remains to be seen how this requirement will be assessed in practice and whether additional regulation will be needed.
Finally, the decree provides for the possibility of termination of the right to use the designation should conditions no longer be met. However, it is not yet clear what the duration of the right will be – that is, how regularly the quality of the products will be checked by the certifying authority in order to determine whether conditions for using the designation continue to be fulfilled.
Hopefully these questions will be clarified once applications for use of the 'Serbian quality' designation begin to be filed.
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