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Quick-frozen food



Directive 89/108/EEC on quick-frozen foodstuffs for human consumption


It lays down EU-wide rules governing the quick freezing, packaging, labelling and inspection of quick-frozen foodstuffs.


Freezing process

  • Quick-frozen foodstuffs are those subjected to the ‘quick-freezing’ process, in which the temperature zone of maximum crystallisation is spanned as rapidly as possible and the product is then held (after thermal stabilisation) at a temperature of – 18 °C or lower.
  • Quick freezing must be carried out promptly, using appropriate technical equipment, on raw materials of sound, genuine and saleable quality. Only air, nitrogen and carbon dioxide meeting specific purity criteria may be utilised as cryogenic media (i.e. at very low temperatures). The European Commission sets the purity criteria.
  • Deviations from the temperature of – 18 °C for quick-frozen foods are permitted during transport and local distribution and in retail display cabinets. The deviation in such instances must not exceed 3 °C.

Product packaging

  • Quick-frozen foods must be packaged in pre-packaging which protects them against external contamination and drying.
  • The labelling of quick-frozen foods must include the sales name, the indication ‘quick-frozen’ and the batch identification. The other compulsory information varies according to the intended consumer of that product.
    • Ultimate consumers, restaurants, hospitals, canteens: the date of minimum durability, the period during which the product may be stored by the purchaser, the storage temperature and the storage equipment required.
    • Others: the net quantity and the identity of the manufacturer, packer or seller.

Official checks

EU countries must ensure that the equipment used for quick-frozen foods complies with the directive and they must conduct random official checks on product temperature.

The Commission is granted powers to adopt detailed rules for sampling and for monitoring temperature in the modes of transport, warehousing and storage.


It has applied since 10 January 1989 and had to become law in the EU countries by 10 July 1990 for trade in products which complied with this directive. EU countries had to prohibit trade in products which did not comply with this directive by 10 January 1991.


Council Directive 89/108/EEC of 21 December 1988 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to quick-frozen foodstuffs for human consumption (OJ L 40, 11.2.1989, pp. 34-37)

Successive amendments to Directive 89/108/EEC have been incorporated into the original act. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Commission Regulation (EC) No 37/2005 of 12 January 2005 on the monitoring of temperatures in the means of transport, warehousing and storage of quick-frozen foodstuffs intended for human consumption (OJ L 10, 13.1.2005, pp. 18-19)

Commission Directive 92/2/EEC of 13 January 1992 laying down the sampling procedure and the Community method of analysis for the official control of the temperatures of quick-frozen foods intended for human consumption (OJ L 34, 11.2.1992, pp. 30-33)

last update 28.08.2019