On 27 April 2021, the Czech Act No. 174/2021 Coll. was published in the Collection of Laws, which, among other things, amended the Czech Act No. 110/1997 Coll., on Food and Tobacco Products and on amendments to Certain Related Acts, as amended (the “Food and Tobacco Products Act”).
In addition to other changes, the amendment introduced a ban on dual quality of foodstuffs into the Czech legal system with effect from 12 May 2021. The introduction of the ban on dual quality of foodstuff, as this institute can be more simply described, is a major change brought about by the new law.
Dual quality products are products that are interchangeable with products of inferior quality manufactured in European Union member countries for the European market.
Prohibition of dual quality food
Thus, the Czech food and foreign food may seem identical at first glance, but on closer inspection of the composition, we come across differences, both in the amount of added food ingredients and in their quality. According to the European Union, the dual quality of food is inherently misleading, so it falls into the category of unfair competition practices and as such is prohibited.
The directive on unfair commercial practices of the European Union, which is followed by the amendment, does not contain a sharp ban on dual quality food. In this case, it is provided by the amendment to the Food and Tobacco Products Act.
The amendment regulates the above-mentioned issues in the new provisions of Section 10 (1) (f) and (g), which provide that: ‘The placing on the market of food […] shall be prohibited:
f. containing substances in conflict with the requirements for the composition of food supplements or substances prohibited in the production of food according to the Decree on Food Supplements and the composition of food; and
g. seemingly identical to food placed on the market in the other Member States of the European Union, although the food placed on the market in the Czech Republic has a significantly different composition or properties unless justified by justified and objective facts and provided with easily accessible and sufficient information on this different composition or properties. “
In this case, we can talk about the so-called “hard ban” of dual quality food, which will, after its entry into force, exclude the sale of dual quality products in Czech stores.
Tomorrow (28 May 2022), the transitional period for the transposition of European Union directive legislation into the national laws of the Member States ends.
Control of compliance with the ban
Compliance with the double quality ban will be supervised by the State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority, which will also be the authorized body for imposing fines for violating the ban. These can reach up to CZK 50 million.
The interpretative practice of the Inspection can also be followed here: https://www.szpi.gov.cz/dvoji-kvalita.aspx, where the Inspection regularly updates its working document “Basic principles of dual quality control of foodstuffs”.
Proof of dual quality of food is dependent on cooperation with other Member States and will therefore only be fully possible when similar legislation prohibiting dual quality of food is in force in other Member States.
According to the Inspection, the period before 28 May 2022 should allow food business operators to thoroughly prepare to comply with the legislation and situation (e.g. in terms of food composition, packaging, etc.).
According to the transitional provisions of the amendment, food placed on the market or labelled before the date of entry into force of the amendment, which complies with the requirements of the Food and Tobacco Products Act as amended before the amendment came into force but does not comply with the requirements introduced by the amendment, may be sold until stocks are exhausted.
The amendment introduces a number of changes to further regulate the activities of food business operators as well as to enhance consumer protection or responsible procurement. We covered this topic more in our article last April, which is available here: https://www.peytonlegal.cz/en/amendment-to-the-food-act/.
We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding the amendment to the Food and Tobacco Products Act and the current food legislation. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
Mgr. Jakub Málek, managing partner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Kateřina Roučková, legal assistant – email@example.com
27. 05. 2022