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Natural mineral waters
The harmonisation of the legislation on the marketing of natural mineral waters protects the consumer and enables companies exploiting mineral waters to move their products freely throughout the European Union (EU).
This Directive applies to waters recognised by the competent authorities of a Member State as complying with all the criteria applying to natural mineral waters. These waters are distinguished from ordinary drinking water by their nature and their original state. They may have been extracted from the ground of a Member State or a third country.
Exploitation and marketing
Sources of natural mineral water may be exploited only in accordance with the rules established by the responsible authority of the country where the water is extracted. This authority also checks the nature and purity of the waters by means of regular inspections.
The only treatments permitted for mineral water are:
- the separation of its unstable elements, such as iron, manganese and sulphur compounds and certain undesirable constituents of a natural origin;
- the elimination or addition of carbon dioxide.
Microbiological analyses at source
This Directive contains criteria for microbiological analyses at source, including those on the presence of certain revivable micro-organisms. In general, natural mineral waters must comply at source with the microbiological criteria for drinking water and give satisfactory evidence of the protection of the source against all contamination.
Labelling and packaging
Labelling of natural mineral waters includes:
- the sales description, specifying whether the water is naturally carbonated or fortified with gas from the spring;
- the trade name;
- the name and location of the spring;
- analytic composition
- any treatments.
The packaging must not cause confusion as to the nature of the water by attributing it with false characteristics or curative properties. Annex III of the Directive gives a list of the permitted information and the corresponding criteria.
The term "spring water" may be used only for water intended for human consumption in its natural state which is bottled at source and displays a series of characteristics set out in the Directive.
The Member States must ensure that national laws do not hinder the marketing of mineral waters. However, they may suspend marketing of a mineral water if the product does not comply with this Directive. In this case, they must inform the other Member States and the Commission, which will then take appropriate measures after carrying out checks.
The Standing Committee on the Food Chain will assist the Commission in taking decisions on legislation on the marketing of natural mineral waters.
|Act||Entry into force - Date of expiry||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Directive 80/777/EEC||18.09.1980||18.07.1982||OJ L 229, 30.08.1980.|
|Amending act(s)||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
|Directive 96/70/EC||13.12.1996||28.10.1998||OJ L 299, 23.11.1996.|
|Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003||20.11.2003||-||OJ L 284, 31.10.2003.|