Europe shares its rich cultural heritage by introducing dairy products produced using traditional technologies under the strict European food production, quality, and safety standards.

Dairy products

The European Union is a substantial producer of milk and milk products and they are integrated in the Common Market Organization (CMO).
Milk production takes place in all EU countries and represents a significant proportion of the value of EU agricultural output. Total EU milk production is estimated at around 155 million tones per year.

Dairy products quality control system

Animal health requirements applicable to all stages of the production, processing and distribution of products of animal origin within the community.
Veterinary checks on products of animal origin intended for trade must be carried out.

The reports indicate that there is a high level of control intensity throughout the EU. However, the frequency of inspections varies greatly according to the nature of the businesses. For example in sectors regarded as high risk, such as milk production, controls are much more frequent.

Harmonization ensures that the same requirements for introduction of milk and milk products are applied in all the Member States, and prevents milk and milk products that may carry infectious diseases that are dangerous for livestock or humans from entering the EU territory.

An increasing number of foods labelled and advertised in the Community bear nutrition and health claims. In order to ensure a high level of protection for consumers and to facilitate their choice, products put on the market must be safe and adequately labelled.

There is a wide range of nutrients and other substances including, but not limited to, vitamins, minerals including trace elements, amino acids, essential fatty acids, fibre, various plants and herbal extracts with a nutritional or physiological effect that might be present in a food and be the subject of a claim. Therefore, general principles applicable to all claims made on foods should be established in order to ensure a high level of consumer protection, give the consumer the necessary information to make choices in full knowledge of the facts, as well as creating equal conditions of competition for the food industry.

Conditions for claims such as ‘lactose-free’ , addressed to a group of consumers with specific disorders, should be dealt with in Council Directive on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses. In addition, provides the possibility that foodstuffs for normal consumption can indicate their suitability for use by these groups of consumers if they fulfil the conditions for such statement. Until the conditions for such statements are set at Community level, Member States may maintain or adopt relevant national measures.

Control routine of milk and milk products quality

Routine methods may be used for analyses required by the Community rules provided that they are properly calibrated and regularly checked against the reference method. Results shall be compared taking into account the constant bias, the repeatability and the reproducibility.
In cases of dispute, the result obtained by the reference method shall be decisive.
Member States shall inform the Commission on the use of routine methods.
For milk and milk products other than butter for public storage, the reference method to be used by the Member States for sensory evaluation shall be either IDF standard 99C:1997 or other comparable methods which they shall notify to the Commission.

Special characteristic of milk and milk products


1. The designation ‘butter’ may be used for composite products of which an essential part is butter if the end product contains at least 75 % milk fat and has been manufactured solely from butter and the other added ingredient(s) mentioned in the description.
2. The designation ‘butter’ may be used for composite products containing less than 75 % but at least 62 % milk fat met and if the product designation includes the term ‘butter preparation’.
4. The use of the designation ‘butter’ shall be subject to the requirement to indicate in the labelling and presentation of the products the milk fat content and, if the other added ingredients contain fat, the total fat content.
5. The term ‘butter preparation’ must appear in a conspicuous place and be easily visible and clearly legible.

Drinking milk

Regulation defines the following sales descriptions which must be used for drinking milk which is intended for delivery to the consumer without further processing:

-whole milk: heat-treated milk which, with respect to fat content, meets one of the following requirements:
-standardized whole milk: milk with a fat content of at least 3.50 % (m/m).
-non-standardized whole milk: milk with a fat content that has not been altered since the milking stage either by the addition or removal of milk fats or by mixture with milk the natural fat content of which has been altered. However, the fat content may not be less than 3.50 % (m/m);
-semi-skimmed milk: heat-treated milk whose fat content has been reduced to at least 1.50 % (m/m) and at most 1.80 % (m/m);
-Skimmed-milk: heat-treated milk whose fat content has been reduced to not more than 0.50 % (m/m).

Assortment of dairy products:

• Milk
• Kefir
• Drinkable yogurt
• Flavoured milk drinks
• Cheese
• Sour cream
• Butter
• Yogurt
• Desserts
• Ingredients (skimmed milk powder, whey powder, cagliata cheese(industrial cheese))

Legal information:

Regulation on animal health rules

Regulation on common organization of the markets in agricultural products

Regulation on notifications concerning producer in the milk and milk products sector

Regulation on detailed rules for the application as regards methods for the analysis and quality evaluation of milk and milk products

Regulation on nutrition and health claims made on foods