Natural mineral waters

The harmonisation of the provisions concerning natural mineral waters improves their free movement in the internal market. This Directive also enhances consumer protection, and lays down the conditions for prevention and intervention in the event of threats to public health.

Directive 2009/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters (Recast) – Text with EEA relevance.

The harmonisation performed by this Directive promotes the marketing of natural mineral waters in the internal market.

Natural mineral waters are characterised by their original purity, their specific nature (particularly a high mineral or trace element content) and in some cases by their effects. Their characteristics must be recognised by the competent national authorities, whether the water has been extracted from the ground of a Member State or has been imported into the Community.

Member States communicate the list of recognised mineral waters to the Commission. This list is published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

This Directive does not apply to waters which are medicinal products within the meaning of Directive 2001/83/EC and to natural mineral waters which are used at source for curative purposes (in the case of thermal or hydromineral establishments).

Treatment and potability of water

Only three treatments are authorised, insofar as they do not alter the composition of the water as regards its essential constituents. These are:

  • the separation of unstable elements;
  • the separation of iron, manganese, sulphur and arsenic compounds by treatment with ozone and under the conditions laid down by the Commission following consultation of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA);
  • the separation of other undesirable constituents in compliance with the conditions for use laid down by the Commission following consultation of the EFSA.

The revivable total colony count and the number of parasites and pathogenic micro-organisms is checked at source and when the water is bottled. When marketed, a higher bacterial count may only be due to a normal increase. Water must not have any defects from the point of view of touch, taste and smell. It must be packaged in a container which avoids the possibility of adulteration or contamination.


The general rules for labelling, presentation and advertising are set out in Directive 2000/13/EC. The sales description of natural mineral water is strictly controlled according to its characteristics and any treatments.

Labelling includes mandatory information:

  • the statement of analytical composition;
  • the name of the spring and the place of exploitation;
  • information on any treatments.

Indications attributing properties relating to the prevention, treatment or cure of a human illness are prohibited. The properties of the water may be mentioned, in compliance with this Directive or according to the criteria established at national level by recognised scientific methods.


A Member State may temporarily restrict or suspend trade in a product circulating freely within its territory. It must first inform the Commission and the other Member States, and justify its decision.

Powers of the Commission

The Commission is assisted by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. It may take measures concerning:

  • limits for the concentrations of constituents of waters;
  • the indication on the labelling of high levels of certain constituents;
  • the use of ozone-enriched air;
  • information on treatments;
  • checks on microbiological characteristics.

It takes all necessary decisions in the event of a threat to public health, following consultation of the EFSA.


Directive 80/777/EEC is repealed so as to recast its successive amendments. Member States must however continue to transpose its amending directives, since these provisions are considered as amending Directive 2009/54/EC. A correlation table is available in Annex IV of this Directive.

Definition, description and presentation of aromatized drinks


To facilitate the free movement of aromatized drinks in the Community while preserving product quality standards and consumer information.

Council Regulation (EEC) No 1601/91 of 10 June 1991 laying down general rules on the definition, description and presentation of aromatized wines, aromatized wine-based drinks and aromatized wine-product cocktails [Official Journal L 149 of 14.06.1991].

Amended by:

Council Regulation (EEC) No 3279/92 of 9 November 1992 [Official Journal L 327 of 13.11.1992];
Regulation (EC) No 3378/94 of 22 December 1994 [Official Journal L 366 of 31.12.1994];
European Parliament and Council Regulation (EC) No 2061/96 of 8 October 1996 [Official Journal L 277 of 30.10.1996];
Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 September 2003 [Official Journal L 284 of 31.10.2003];
Protocol for admission of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Romania to the European Union – Annex III: List referred to in Article 16 of the Protocol: adaptations to acts adopted by the institutions – 2. Agriculture [Official Journal L 157 of 21.06.2005].


These Regulations distinguish between three categories of drinks according to their wine content, their alcoholic strength, and whether they contain added alcohol. The three categories are: aromatized wines, aromatized wine-based drinks and aromatized wine-product cocktails.

The use of water in the preparation of these drinks is authorized provided that the quality of the water conforms to Council Directive 80/777/EEC. Council Directive 89/107/EEC also applies to additives used in aromatized drinks, while the oenological processes and practices to be used are those laid down in Council Regulation (EEC) No 822/87.

The ethyl alcohol used to dilute or dissolve authorized additives must be of agricultural origin and its use must be limited to a strict minimum.

The designations of aromatized drinks laid down in the Regulations are mandatory and reserved exclusively for these drinks. Since the reputation of certain drinks is closely linked with their traditional place of origin, it is compulsory to indicate the place of origin in cases where the drink does not originate in the region where it is traditionally produced.

Aromatized drinks which do not comply with the Regulations may not be marketed using terms such as “style”, “type”, “flavour” or similar indications associating them with one of the designations laid down in the Regulation.

The Member States are responsible under certain conditions for preventing the illegal use within the Community of geographical indications protected by a third country which is a member of the World Trade Organization.

The labelling of aromatized drinks is subject to the general rules laid down in Council Directive 2000/13/EC. However, because of the special characteristics of such drinks, additional provisions have been included in these Regulations.

The sale and placing into circulation of these products in bottles whose closing device is covered with a lead-based capsule or foil was banned from 1 January 1993 onwards.

Aromatized drinks exported to third countries must comply with these Regulations.

Member States are responsible for ensuring that the provisions of these Regulations are complied with and must appoint one or more monitoring agencies. The Member States and the Commission must communicate to each other the necessary data.

Spirit Drink Presentation

Definition, description, presentation, labelling and geographical indications of spirit drinks

Harmonising measures regarding Community marketing of spirit drinks helps to protect consumers and further develop the sector. This legal framework favours the introduction of technological innovation alongside traditional methods of production.

Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and the Council of 15 January 2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89.

Spirit drinks marketed in the Community or produced in the Community for export purposes comply with the definition, classification and technical requirements of this Regulation. For instance, if alcohol is added, it must be ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin.

Spirit drink categories covered by the Regulation include:

  • drinks obtained from raw materials listed in the relevant definition for the spirit drink concerned: “rum”, “whisky or whiskey”, “grain spirit”, “wine spirit”, “brandy or Weinbrand”, “grape marc spirit or grape marc”, “fruit marc spirit”, “raisin spirit or raisin brandy”, “fruit spirit”, “cider spirit and perry spirit”, “honey spirit”, “Hefebrand or lees spirit”, “Bierbrand or beer eau de vie”, “Topinambur or Jerusalem artichoke spirit”;
  • drinks obtained from any agricultural raw material listed in the Treaty: “vodka”, “spirit (preceded by the name of the fruit) obtained by maceration and distillation”, “geist”, “gentian”, “juniper-flavoured spirit drinks”, “gin”, “distilled gin”, “London gin”, “caraway-flavoured spirit drinks”, “akvavit or aquavit”, “aniseed-flavoured spirit drinks”, “pastis”, “pastis de Marseille”, “anis”, “distilled anis”, “bitter-tasting spirit drinks or bitter”, “flavoured vodka”, “liqueur”, “crèmes de (follow by the name of a fruit or the raw material used)”, “crème de cassis”, “guignolet”, “punch au rhum”, “sloe gin”, “sambuca”, “maraschino, marrasquino or maraskino”, “nocino”, “egg liqueur or advocaat, avocat or advokat”. “liqueur with egg”, “mistrà”, “Väkevä glögi or spritglögg”, “Berenburg or beerenburg”, “honey or mead nectar”.

With regard to sales denominations, the names of these categories of drinks may only be used if they display certain characteristics. Moreover, the denomination may be supplemented or replaced by a geographical indication registered in the Regulation.

Spirit drinks that cannot be classified in one of these categories are marketed under the generic denomination “spirit drink”.

Geographical indications

The Regulation includes the list of geographical indications, classified by product category, and sets out the related provisions. These indications identify drinks having a particular link with their place of origin and have the benefit of specific legal protection against erroneous use. Geographical indications are registered in the list following a submission made to the Commission by the Member State in which the drink originates. The Commission may also annul registration where the drink concerned no longer possesses the characteristics listed in the technical file accompanying the registration application.

The Committee for Spirit Drinks assists the Commission.

Key terms used in the act
Spirit drink: alcoholic drink with particular organoleptic qualities, with a minimum alcohol strength by volume of 15%, produced either by distillation, maceration or the addition of flavourings, or by mixing with one or more other products.

Fruit juices and similar products

The composition of fruit juices and similar products, their reserved names, and their manufacture and labelling characteristics are subject to specific Community rules.

Council Directive 2001/112/EC of 20 September 2001 relating to fruit juices and certain similar products intended for human consumption [See amending acts].

The products covered by this Directive are fruit juice, concentrated fruit juice, dehydrated fruit juice and fruit nectar. These products are defined on the basis of their composition and preparation processes so as to ensure that the terms are used correctly in trade, and not in a manner which may mislead. The Directive also defines particular designations used in certain countries and languages.

Labelling must clearly indicate:

  • if a product is a mixture of different fruits;
  • if a product has been sweetened;
  • if a product has been obtained entirely or partly from a concentrate.

In the case of concentrated fruit juice, if the product is not intended for delivery to the final consumer, the labelling must indicate any addition of sugars, lemon juice or acidifying agents.

The Directive lists the raw materials which may be used to manufacture juice and nectar, and also the additives which may be authorised, subject to the Directive on nutrition labelling for foodstuffs.

The minimum content of fruit juice and/or fruit purée in fruit nectar must conform to the levels indicated in the Directive and must be stated in the product labelling.


This Directive forms part of the programme to simplify certain vertical Directives relating to foodstuffs. It takes account of the general rules on labelling, the Directive on labelling and the advertising of foodstuffs, the Directive on colours permitted in foodstuffs and the Directive on sweeteners permitted in foodstuffs.

Labelling of alcoholic beverages

The labelling of beverages containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol must indicate the actual alcoholic strength by volume, i.e. showing the word « alcohol » or the abbreviation « alc. » followed by the symbol « % vol. ».

Commission Directive 87/250/EEC of 15 April 1987 on the indication of alcoholic strength by volume in the labelling of alcoholic beverages for sale to the ultimate consumer.

This Directive lays down provisions supplementing Community rules on the definition of alcoholic strength by volume laid down in Council Directive 76/766/EEC. It also supplements Council Directive 79/112/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling and presentation of foodstuffs for sale to the ultimate consumer.

The Directive applies to beverages containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol other than those classified under headings 22.04 and 22.05 of the Common Customs Tariff.

Alcoholic strength is determined at 20°C and the corresponding figure is given to not more than one decimal place. It is followed by the symbol “% vol.” and preceded by the word “alcohol” or the abbreviation “alc.”.

The tolerances allowed in respect of the indication of the alcoholic strength by volume are:

  • 5 % vol. for beers having an alcoholic strength not exceeding 5.5 % vol. and beverages classified under subheading 22.07 B II of the Common Customs Tariff and made from grapes;
  • 1 % vol. for beers having an alcoholic strength exceeding 5.5 % vol. and beverages classified under subheading 22.07 B I of the Common Customs Tariff and made from grapes; ciders, perries, fruit wines and the like; beverages based on fermented honey;
  • 5 % vol. for beverages containing macerated fruit or parts of plants;
  • 3 % vol. for other beverages.

Trade in beverages that do not comply with this Directive but were labelled before 1 May 1989 is permitted until stocks are exhausted.


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