Dechert OnPoint: Status of Business Operators in the Food/Beverage Sector

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Thestatus of business operators in the Georgian food/beverage business sector is a relatively recent phenomenon in Georgian legislation. But despite its novelty, a plethora of technical regulations are currently being introduced. The Georgian Food/Feed Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection Code (the “Code”) defines a business operator as a person whose activities are related to the production, primary production, processing and distribution of food/feed, animals, plants, products of animal and plant origin, veterinary drugs, pesticides, agrochemicals, as well as to the providing of services in the fields of veterinary and plant protection, and who is responsible for the compliance of his/her activities under the requirements defined by the legislation of Georgia (the “Business Operator”). The activities of Business Operators are generally overseen by the LEPL National Food Agency (the “Agency”).

This week’s edition of OnPoint aims to provide an overview of the Business Operator status under the Code as well as the secondary legislation adopted pursuant to the Code, with a focus on the obligations of Business Operators in the food/beverage safety sector.

Registration and Recognition Requirement

Business Operators are only allowed to carry out their activities if they are duly registered as entities/persons holding such status with the LEPL National Agency of Public Registry (“NAPR”). Becoming a registered entity requires filing an application including notably a questionnaire as to the relevant activities the person/entity is engaged in. The registration and changes to the status and activities engaged in are available online, via a special portal available to Business Operators.

Some Business Operators must first acquire recognition from the Agency to commence their activities in the sector. Namely, Business Operators whose activities are related to the production (except for primary production) and/or processing of food products of animal origin are subject to this recognition. According to the Government of Georgia (“GoG”) Decree #722 of 26 December 2014, the Agency shall ensure the recognition of a Business Operator based on the results of state control if the activities of the Business Operator fully comply with the requirements defined by the legislation of Georgia.

Any person engaged in activities related to the production, primary production, processing, distribution of food/feed, animals, plants, products of animal and plant origin, veterinary drugs, pesticides, agrochemicals, as well as to services in the fields of veterinary and plant protection and not registered as a Business Operator with NAPR, is subject to administrative fines under the Code.

Obligations of Business Operators

Business Operators, except for those carrying out primary production, shall adhere to food safety procedures introduced in accordance with the principles of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (the “HACCP”) system. The Code sets out the details of the system which are to be followed by the Business Operators in detail, including: identification of any hazard, its elimination or reduction to an appropriate level and establishment of critical control points at the stage/stages when control shall be carried out. Additional requirements of compliance with different rules and regulations apply to different types of Business Operators, depending on their exact sphere of activities. They are examined in more detail below.

Food/Feed Business Operators

Should Business Operators or the Agency have reasonable doubts that the food/feed imported, produced, processed, distributed, or placed on the market by a given Business Operator does not satisfy certain safety requirements for food/feed as defined by the legislation of Georgia, the Business Operator shall, either voluntarily or according to the instructions of the Agency, take immediate measures to prevent the placement of such food/feed on the market or to withdraw from the market the food/feed that has already been placed on the market. If a final consumer has been supplied with such food/feed, the Business Operator shall effectively, in a form understandable to the consumer, provide him/her with full information about the reasons for the withdrawal of the food/feed from the market. If the measures taken to protect health are insufficient, the Business Operator shall recall the food/feed that has been supplied to the consumer.

Veterinary Business Operators

Business Operators carrying out animal breeding, driving, transportation, sale and/or slaughter shall implement preventive and liquidation measures against epizootic diseases, including vaccinations, diagnostic examinations, treatment and other measures against contagious diseases. They are required to slaughter animals under veterinary supervision for further sale and fulfill the Agency’s instructions for implementing preventive and liquidation activities against epizootic diseases. Their cooperation with the relevant authorities in the implementation of diagnostic, preventive and liquidation measures against animal diseases and of measures for the identification and registration of animals is mandatory. They shall ensure the destruction of animal waste, animal transportation and sale as determined by the legislation of Georgia, and immediately inform the Agency about cases involving infectious diseases and/or mass poisoning of animals. Business Operators carrying out the production, processing and distribution of products of animal origin shall, within the scope of their activities, ensure that the products of animal origin do not pose a risk to the health or life of humans and/or animals. Additionally, from 2020, they will be responsible for ensuring the welfare of animals (including pets).

Plant breeders’ obligations

Business Operators carrying out production, processing and/or distribution of plants and products of plant origin shall protect plants and products of plant origin, as well as the site of production of plants and products of plant origin, from quarantined pests. They are also required to mitigate the harmful effects of used pesticides and agrochemicals on human and animal health and the environment, and to fulfill the Agency’s instructions for preventing the mass spread of particularly dangerous and/or quarantined pests that pose a threat to the health of humans or plants. The specific obligations of cooperation with the relevant authority and prompt provision of all information of note are also listed.

New GMO related requirements

New regulations have been adopted with regards to the circulation and marking of genetically modified (“GMO”) products on the Georgian food/beverage market, via the Law of Georgia on the marking of food/feed and deriving GMO products (the “Law”). The Law provides that each Business Operator be obliged to comply with the rules of marking the GMO products, as set out by the GoG Decree #320 of 7 July 2015. Every placement of GMO products on the retail market shall be accompanied by relevant documentation of the products, providing thorough description of their derivation. In cases of the impossibility of marking a GMO product, the Business Operator shall refrain from placing such products on the market and shall retrieve such products immediately in case of their placement. In case of import of GMO products which do not fulfill relevant marking standards, they will be denied entry into the country or confiscated and destroyed by the Revenue Service, which acts as the customs authority.

Different technical regulations related to the operation of the sector

A considerable number of technical regulations have been recently adopted which are mandatory for the Business Operators, e.g.: the technical regulation of bottled natural mineral and source waters (GoG Decree #719 of 29 December 2014), the technical regulation of honey (GoG Decree #714 of 1 July 2015), technical regulation of animal-derived food (GoG Decree #55 of 16 February 2015), technical regulation of wheat flour (GoG Decree #376 of 27 July 2015), technical regulation of milk products (GoG Decree #152 of 3 April 2015), etc. More technical regulations are expected to be channeled in view of the harmonization of Georgian Legislation with relevant EU standards, as required by the EU-Georgia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.


The Code sets out fines for non-fulfillment of the obligations of Business Operators as explained above, with the range of possible fines being between GEL 200 and GEL 2,000. For example, the placement by a Business Operator of harmful food/feed on the market or the failure by a Business Operator to fulfill its obligation to withdraw from the market harmful food/feed that have already been placed on the market or supplied to consumers is subject to a fine in the amount of GEL 1,000, and the slaughter without veterinary supervision of animals intended for sale is fined in the amount of GEL 1,000. With the expectation of an increase in technical regulations in this sphere, the importance of the Code and its practical observance will continue to rise, especially as the Agency has already begun to operate and monitor compliance by Business Operators. In our view, these legislative and regulatory novelties mark a step forward for Georgia’s business sector as it complies with EU product and service standards.

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Note: this article does not constitute legal advice. You are responsible for consulting with your own professional legal advisors concerning specific circumstances for your business.

15 October 2015 21:50