Written answer of the EU Commission on counterfeit Sambuca

Following my former article on the Parliamentary question filed by Linda McAvan (S&D), on 31st October 2013, Mara Bizzotto and Giancarlo Scottà, here below the official position of the Commission:

19 December 2013
Answer given by Mr Cioloș on behalf of the Commission
According to the definition of the category ‘sambuca’, included in point 38 of Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks, ‘Sambuca is a colourless aniseed-flavoured liqueur…’. Consequently, the absence of colour is one of the essential conditions for the conformity of the product with the definition of ‘sambuca’.However, Article (10)1 of Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 allows the use of the names of categories listed in Annex II as part of a compound terms or as an allusion provided that ‘… the alcohol originates exclusively from the spirit drink(s) referred to.’

Therefore, a spirit drink containing ‘sambuca’ and a coloured foodstuff can be described by a compound term which includes the term ‘sambuca’ jointly with the name of the foodstuff used (for example, ‘Strawberry sambuca’), provided that all the alcohol used comes exclusively from ‘sambuca’. The final product, in this case, will be coloured and the sales denomination will not be ‘sambuca’ but ‘spirit drink’ or ‘liqueur’, according to its composition.

The Commission has been alerted on trade of Sambuca which could be in breach of the relevant EU definition and informed the concerned Member State, who is currently enquiring. Member States are responsible for the control of spirit drinks and for taking the necessary measures to ensure compliance of spirit drinks with EU rules.

The Commission, as usual, it’s quite cautious about the enforcement of the Regulation, for which are responsible the Member States; but also the interpretation about the definition of Sambuca is quite ambiguous.

It’s clear, anyway, how a coloured liqueur must be named “spirit drink” or “liqueur” and not “Sambuca”, which must be colourless.


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