Neither the Association Agreement concluded with EU nor does the code passed by the Parliament of Georgia on the Protection of Food Safety, Veterinary and Plants (Food Safety Code) provide for prohibition of trade with homemade agricultural products.
Starting from 1 January 2015 legislative amendments will enter into force which prohibit slaughterhouses and raw milk manufacturing businesses to carry out activities without having established threat analysis and critical control point system (HACCP). The purpose of HACCP is to ensure food safety through establishing effective monitoring system for prevention of any threats during the food manufacturing process.
However, monitoring requirements do not apply to individuals, including the products manufactured by farmers or homemade products. In such cases neither the initial production (plant keeping, harvesting, feeding animals, milking etc.) is subject to monitoring and nor the manufacturing process (heating, conservation, drying, salting, etc.), which substantially transforms the initial product.
The Food Safety Code defines homemade production as production of food in an unorganized manner or for private purposes. According to the National Food Agency, an unorganized production includes manufacturing of cheese, sour cream and other similar products in home conditions, without giving raise to taxes and in small quantities for private use or for local market.
At the same time, those manufacturing the products at home may need to obtain food safety document to sell agricultural products. The business entities (food stores, agricultural market, etc.) are under requirement to sell safe food. The Food Safety Code provides for applicable sanctions (warning, fine or prohibition of business activities) in cases of violation of such obligation. Therefore business entities may require from farmers to obtain laboratory test results or may test the food at their cost not to lose regular suppliers. The examples from other countries, which have already implemented EU requirements shows that business entities sometimes help farmers to put in place appropriate manufacturing practices to produce safe food.
Apart from homemade manufacturing, the exemptions of Food Safety Code also apply to small companies (with annual turnover less than 200 thousand GEL) and other companies, which manufacture products in mountainous regions or use traditional methods of manufacturing. Such small businesses are required to satisfy minimal standards of food safety instead of HACCP, which mainly involves clean environment for food manufacturing and using of safe raw materials. The Food Safety Agency shall only check such companies annually if they manufacture high risk animal source food.