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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.

SUMMARY

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.

Labelling

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.

Marketing

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.

Context

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.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2009/54/EC

16.7.2009

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OJ L 164 of 26.6.2009

Last updated: 12.08.2009
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