Category: Legislation Written by Nuno Escudeiro


Bottled waters are among the most regulated products, European directives, complemented by specific national legislation and international standards regulates the use of technical processes and the permitted practices for collecting, bottling and distribution of natural mineral waters and spring waters [1].

The methodology of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) is enforced by an international standard which defines the requirements for proper food safety management system and is responsible for identifying, evaluating and controlling the potential risks of the procedure. Also establishes the necessary preventive measures and, if necessary, corrective actions [1]. HACCP consists on the following seven principles, however it is not intended to provide here a comprehensive description of the HACCP tool:



1. Perform a hazard analysis and identify the preventive/ corrective measures;

2. Identify the critical control points (CCPs);

3. Establish critical limits for preventive measures associated with each CCP;

4. Establish control requirements of the CCP and use the results to adjust the process and maintain control;

5. Establish corrective actions in case of deviation from the critical limits;

6. Establish a system to record all controls, deviations and changes;

7. Establish procedures for verification to ascertain whether the system is functioning properly.


The traceability, which compliance is mandatory for all food industry, guarantees the monitoring of the raw materials and the finished product, from the origin to the final consumer. The traceability basic tool is the batch code or lot, which represents a set of sales units packaged in homogeneous conditions, written on the label, or directly on the bottle [1].


To ensure that bottled water remains totally natural a tight control is focused on the entire process from extraction, bottling, marketing and distribution until reaching the final consumer. The characteristics of these waters are certified by official authorities, among which the Directorate General for Geology and Energy (DGEG) sets the annual program of mandatory analysis (physical, chemical and microbiological). The bottling plants, storage, distribution and market operations are controlled by the Authority for Food and Economic Safety (ASAE). In all phases of the economic cycle, the Health Authority, coordinated by the Directorate General of Health (DGS) ensures health surveillance, carrying out routine analyzes [1].


The current European legislation applicable to natural mineral waters and spring waters are Directive 2009/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters and Commission Directive 2003/40/EC establishing the list, concentration limits and labelling requirements for the constituents of natural mineral waters. Other regulations on food safety and food hygiene apply the Regulation 178/2002/EC, Regulation 852/2004/EC as well as Regulation 882/2004/EC [1, 2].


The Community framework was at fist transposed into national law by Decree-Law n. 283/91, of August 9, regulated by Decree n. º 18/92 of 13 August and subsequently amended by Decree-Law n. 156/98 of 6 July which also covers spring waters. This legislation defines and characterizes natural mineral waters and spring waters, and establishes rules concerning packaging and marketing of the same [1].


Natural mineral waters and spring waters are classified as geological resources by Decree-Law n. º 90/90 (Figure 1), 86/90 and 84/90 of 16 March, which regulate the extraction of natural mineral waters and spring waters. It is also important to refer to Decree-Law n. º 72/2004 of 25 of March that establishes the concentration limits and labelling requirements for the constituents of natural mineral waters [1].



Figure 1. Organization Chart of Decree-Law nº 90/90 [3].



[1] http://www.apiam.pt/ (acceded on 27 of March, 2014);


[2] http://www.efbw.eu/ (acceded on 27 of March 2014);


[3] C. Lourenço, L. Ribeiro, J. Cruz, Classification of Natural Mineral and Spring Bottled Waters of Portugal using Principal Component Analysis , Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 107, 362 – 372 (2010);


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