Wine products: Guidance for local authority food enforcement officers

Last updated:
2 June 2016
Labelling, presentation and authenticity of wine products.

1. Wine definition

Wine is defined under European legislation as:
'The product obtained exclusively from the total or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes, whether or not crushed, or of grape must.'

Specific categories of wine sector products (e.g. sparkling wine, semi-sparkling wine, liqueur wine etc.) are also defined in Regulation 1308/2013. Products must meet the relevant definitions and also any production criteria stipulated in the Regulation 606/2009 which specifies authorised processes.

Wine, and certain traditional terms, are protected under European legislation to ensure that the origin, character and description of products are properly presented to the consumer. Vine growing and wine making practices are also subject to legislative controls.

Rules concerning record keeping and accompanying documents are designed to ensure product traceability and  authenticity.  The overall system of control is laid down in Council Regulation 1308/2013. Local Authority enforcement officers are responsible for enforcement in retail premises.

The terms "English" and "Welsh" are protected for wines that have the official status of  "Protected Designation of Origin" or "Protected Geographical Indication".

The use of the term "wine" may be permitted as part of a composite term in respect  of other products such as fruit wines or "British Wine" provided the presentation of these products does not confuse the consumer into thinking they are genuine wine sector products. The labels of such products should therefore not dsplayi wine sector terms.

2. Enforcement

a. Role of Wine Standards

The Wine Standards team is part of the Food Standards Agency Operations Group. The Agency is responsible for enforcing wine regulations at the import, wholesale and UK production stages. Regionally based inspectors visit bonded warehouses, bottling plants, warehouses wine traders, and vineyards on a risk assessed basis. English and Welsh wine production and harvests are monitored and records checked by inspectors during visits to vineyards and wineries to ensure compliance with wine making rules, traceability and correct labelling.

Inspections, including unannounced visits, are carried out on a risk basis, dependent on the type of activity, the quality of the management and due diligence systems and the company infringement history. The UK is the largest market by value for many wine producing countries. The quantity of wine transiting the UK each year is enormous and the FSA plays an important role in helping promote consumer confidence by ensuring the authenticity and proper description of wine products. Inspectors are trained using specialist Wine and Spirit Education Trust courses, and they are happy to offer advice to both the trade and to enforcement bodies. Inspectors work closely with Local Authorities and, Border Force, HMRC and Official Control Authorities in other Member States,

b. Contact details for Wine Inspectors
Please do not hesitate to approach your local inspector if this might be helpful. Contact details for each inspector can be found below at
http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/winestandards/contactinspectors

c The role of Local Authorities
Local Authorities enforce the Wine Regulations at retail level. Some of the issues that will be of concern will be:-
* Very cheap wine sold at or just above the UK duty rate. This should raise doubts as to the authenticity and possible safety of the product
* The sale of wine kits using protected wine terms
* The incorrect use of protected wine terms on food products
* The sale of wines on tap, described as “prosecco”. (Genuine Prosecco can legally only be exported in bottle from the production region in Italy.)
* The sale of “wine based” drinks and\or British or Made wine, using terms protected only for genuine wine sector products (e.g. Elderflower Champagne, reduced alcohol wine based drinks).
* Generally avoiding the risk of confusion to the consumer as regards genuine wine sector products and other beverages, including advertising and promotional material and product placement.
* Correct labelling of Aromatised wine products

3. The European Wine Regime

Comprehensive guidance concerning the relevant wine legislation can be found on our website and our Inspectors will be happy to discuss specific incidents and provide advice as to the application of relevant legislation. Inspectors will also in certain circumstances, attend joint operations and inspections although it must be emphasised that they have no direct enforcement powers at premises used only for retail purposes.

3. The European Wine Regime
a. Introduction
EC Regulations are published in the 'L' series of the 'Official Journal' as either 'Council' or 'Commission' regulations. The EC website 'Europa' lists all legislation in force, including amendments and supplements to the original text.  http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/wine/legislation/index_en.htm

b. Principal regulations

Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007 (CMO Regulation)

This regulation provides for the overall system of control for agricultural products, including wine. As regards wine it covers
Support mechanisms, promotion
Production potential, including planting authorisations
Oenological practices and processes, description, designation
Presentation and Protection of designations
Trade with Third Countries
Free circulation and release to the market
 

It also sets out the framework of labelling requirements for still and sparkling wines, semi sparkling wines and liqueur wines (e.g. Port, Sherry).

Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 352/78, (EC) No 165/94, (EC) No 2799/98, (EC) No 814/2000, (EC) No 1290/2005 and (EC) No 485/2008
Implementing Regulations

Commission Regulation (EC) No 555/2008 of 27 June 2008 laying down detailed rules as regards enforcement responsibilities of Member States, support programmes, trade with third countries, production potential and  controls in the wine sector. In particular this covers the need for VI1 documents for third country wines.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 436/2009 of 26 May 2009 laying down detailed rules as regards the vineyard register, compulsory declarations and the gathering of information to monitor the wine market, the documents accompanying consignments of wine products and the wine sector registers to be kept.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 606/2009 of 10 July 2009 laying down certain detailed rules as regards the categories of grapevine products, oenological practices and any applicable restrictions.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 607/2009 of 14 July 2009 laying down certain detailed rules as regards protected designations of origin and geographical indications, traditional terms, labelling and presentation of certain wine sector products.

c. UK National Wine Legislation
EC wine regulations are brought into effect in the UK by means of Statutory Instruments – The Wine Regulations – that are updated by way of periodic amending S.I.s.
The Regulations perform the following functions:
List the Community Regulations under which prosecutions maybe pursued
List the various competent authorities
Specify the penalties that can be imposed on persons found guilty of offences
List the various enforcement authorities and the scope of their responsibilities
Specify the powers of the 'authorised officers';
Set out any UK national provisions e.g. the rules for the “Quality” schemes (Protected Designation of Origin and Protected Geographical Indication).

In this context the FSA is listed as an authority for enforcement purposes for the import and export of wine and for the industry in general, with the exception of the retail sector. Inspectors have powers as "authorised officers".

 Liaison and competent authorities
The following bodies are designated by the Wine Regulations as responsible for ensuring compliance with EU wine law:
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra): designated as the liaison body responsible for contact with the European Commission and for co-coordinating activities of control authorities in the UK.(counterpart bodies in the devolved regions)

Food Standards Agency (FSA): is the control authority that enforces the wine regulations in the wholesale sector of the wine trade, including vineyards and wineries. It also supervises the EU system of documentation and maintenance of records for wine.

Local Authorities: local authority officers enforce the wine regulations at retail level and are also responsible for Personal and Premises Alcohol Licences.
HM Revenue and Customs: is responsible for ensuring that wine is accompanied by the necessary documentation at the point of entry to the UK for third country wine, or at the consignees’ tax warehouse for EU wine.

Authorised officers of these bodies have extensive enforcement powers for the purpose of securing compliance with the wine regulations. These include powers of entry and inspection and control of movement of wine, as well as authority to take samples of wine.

d. EC Information and Notices
These documents are published in the "C" series of 'Official Journals', and are for information only. They include notifications of new Protected Designations of Origin or new Protected Geographical Indication of Origin, lists of authorities in Member States and designated laboratories

 

4. Labelling

Comprehensive rules govern the labelling of still and liqueur wines, sparkling and semi-sparkling wines. Their purpose is to provide consumers with clear and accurate information to enable them to identify the origin and quality status of the wine, and to prevent them from being misled or confused.

Detailed guidance can be found here http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/winestandards/wine-labelling

Regulation 1308/2013 contains the general rules on the description and presentation of still wines, including the compulsory particulars that must be shown on labels.. More detailed rules are found in Regulation 607/2009.

5. Other National Legislation

In addition to EC wine regulations and the Wine Regulations, other national requirements for food and consumer protection also apply
Food Information Regulations 2014
Food Safety and Food Hygiene regulations
Weights and Measures and prescribed quantities regulations
Nominal volume measurement
Lot marking
Food labelling provisions, not otherwise covered by wine sector regulations
Trades Descriptions Act 1968 and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

 

6. Control of Documents and Records

a. Records
Wholesale traders are required to keep records of their stock of wine products, and the entry or withdrawal of wines. Those handling wine in bulk must keep records of the nature and quantity of products used, vat numbers, number and capacity of bottles filled, date, and accompanying document number. Where wine is bottled under contract, the name and address of the person who commissioned the bottling must be shown.

Similarly, wine producers must keep detailed winery records showing how the wine was produced. Records and accompanying documents must be kept for at least five years. They must be made available at all times for inspection.

b. Accompanying Documents for the Wholesale Trade
European Community Products:
In bulk
An Administrative Accompanying Document (AAD) must be used for shipments from other Member States. Electronic documents are now used under the HMRC Excise Movement Control Scheme. These are supplied by the consignor and overseen by the authorities in the originating countries. An AAD or a Commercial Accompanying Document (CAD) is used for bulk movements within the UK.
In small containers
A commercial document (e.g. an invoice or delivery note) must be used except for wine consigned in small quantities.
Commercial documents aim to authenticate the origin of products and verify their description and quantity, and provide an audit trail.

Third Country Products (from outside Europe)
Generally, wine products entering the EC must be accompanied by a VI1 form provided by the consignor in the country of origin. This provides traceability and a detailed description of the product. The VI1 also contains a formal analysis statement.

 

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