The Commission said it established a violation under Article 31 of the Law on Protection of Competition by Raftis Milk EOOD, Sirma Prista AD and Cheh - Yosif Novosad OOD, and imposed sanctions amounting to 1% of the net sales revenues of each of the companies for the previous financial year.
In particular, the Commission imposed a fine of BGN 34,470 ($20,800) on Raftis Milk EOOD; BGN 38,440 ($23,300) to Sirma Prista AD; and BGN 331,300 ($200,000) on Cheh - Yosif Novosad Ltd, and ordered the violations to be corrected.
The sample tests, from 2016, found non-milk fat in the "CBA", batch number L 010505, produced by "Ceh - Yosif Novosad" OOD; "Stara Planina cow cheese with batch number L 24016, manufactured by Sirma Prista AD; "Trakia" cow cheese with batch number L 24016, distributed by "Lucky 2003" Ltd., and produced by "Raftis - Milk" EOOD; and "Rainbow" cheese with batch number L 280316, produced by "Raftis - Milk" EOOD.
Non-milk fats not labeled
The Commission said each of the three companies marketed a 'cow's milk cheese' product containing non-milk fats, which is not mentioned on the packaging of the product.
The presence of non-milk fats in the 'cheese' product is essential for determining it at as 'cheese' or as an imitation product containing milk which, according to the legislation, may be composed of other, non-milk, fats.
In determining the sanction, the Commission took account of the gravity and duration of the infringement, the limited geographic scope and the economic situation of the respondent companies.
Threat to life
The CPC has also taken the view that the breach poses ‘a threat or damages to the life or health of consumers as the breaches have been committed in the production and distribution of food products with an incorrect description of their essential characteristics.’
According to Art. 24 of the Ordinance, the addition of non-milk fats to dairy products is prohibited.
The laws also state imitation products containing milk must not include the name "cheese". It defines imitation products as those in which the milk ingredient is replaced by partial or total substitutes such as fat of non-milk origin.
Raftis Milk is located in Sliven, while Sirma Prista and Cheh – Yosif Novosad are located in Ruse and Sokolovo respectively.