Frequently Asked Questions - Traditional Dairy Unit (Ġbejniet)

Q1. What should one do to start producing ġbejniet to be consumed by the owner and direct family?

A1. (i) All farm holdings producing milk have to be registered with the Department before they start keeping animals.
(ii) All male and female animals of the species producing milk on the farm holding shall originate from other registered holdings and transferred after written consent by the Director (Department officials). They shall be identified and registered on the farm register and with the Department in accordance to the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No. 21/2004 on the Identification and Registration of Ovine and Caprine Animals, CAP. 36 on the Prevention of Disease Ordinance, S.L. 36.32 on Milch Animals Regulations, CAP. 437 of the Veterinary Services Act and S.L. 437.78 on the Identification and Registration of Animals Rules.
(iii) The animals referred to above shall be tested regularly for any diseases which may be identified in all relevant Regulations, as well as for any other disease as may be determined by the Director from time to time. The owner has to be available for visits from VRD (Veterinary Regulation Directorate) officers for sampling and inspection.
(iv) Dairy or traditional dairy products may be produced on a farm holding or in related premises outside the rules set by Council Regulations (EC) Nos. 852/2004, 853/2004 and 854/2004 and the provisions of these rules if they are going to be consumed by the owner of the animals or his direct family. Such a production can only take place under these conditions on farm holdings where there are no more than four (4) sheep or goats registered on the farm holding.


Q2. What should one do if they intend to produce ġbejniet and place them on the market?

A2. (i) All farm holdings producing milk shall be registered with the Department before they start keeping animals.
(ii) All male and female animals of the species producing milk on the farm holding shall originate from other registered holdings and transferred after written consent by the Director (Department officials). They shall be identified and registered on the farm register and with the Department in accordance to the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No. 21/2004 on the Identification and Registration of Ovine and Caprine Animals, CAP. 36 Prevention of Disease Ordinance, S.L. 36.32 on Milch Animals Regulations, CAP. 437 of the Veterinary Services Act and S.L. 437.78 on the Identification and Registration of Animals Rules.
(iii) The animals referred to above shall be tested regularly for any diseases which may be identified in all relevant Regulations, as well as for any other disease as may be determined by the Director from time to time. The owner has to be available for visits from VRD (Veterinary Regulation Directorate) officers for sampling and inspection also at short notice.
(iv) Farms having more than four (4) registered sheep or goats on the holdings need an approval to produce and place on the market ġbejna. They shall satisfy the requirements of Council Regulations (EC) Nos. 852/2004 and 853/2004.
(v) The production of dairy products and traditional dairy products cannot be placed on the market, be sold in wholesale or retail or directly to the final consumer over the farm gate or from any related premises or from any other place unless they are products originating from establishments which conform to the requirements of Council Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 and that have been approved and registered by VRD at Dairy Establishments.


Q3. What are the requirements to register a farm?

A3. (i) When a person decides to keep up to four (4) small ruminants, the applicant must apply for permission/registration number. The applicant must fill in an official application (as per Annex 1) and includes:
  • 2 photos of the place/room where the owner is going to keep the small ruminants.
  • A site-map of the nearby area.
  • A photocopy of the applicant’s ID card/ Passport.

(ii) Then, the application is checked by the Officer in charge and an onsite inspection is carried out:
  • If it is compliant, the applicant will be registered in the National Livestock Database as a new Ruminant breeder with the Directorate.
  • A letter of confirmation is sent to the applicant in which is also given a registration number as a means of ID with the Directorate and this is used for trading animals (as per Annex 2).
  • A list of guidelines regarding the up-keeping of the animals is also sent with the confirmation letter (as per Annex 3).
  • If the application is not accepted, the officer in charge will call the applicant and will contact the applicant to bring other documents if needed so as to be accepted. Otherwise, a letter will be sent, stating that the application cannot be accepted.

(iii) If a person decides to keep more than four (4) small ruminants on the farm, they must have all MEPA building permits where to keep animals. They must also have a manure clamp and a cesspit.
(iv) If the applicant is already in possession of MEPA permits, a site-plan and other related MEPA documentations must be presented to the Officials in order to proceed as in subparagraph (ii).


Q4. What are the requirements to register a dairy establishment?

A4. (i) The applicant must be in possession of appropriate MEPA building permits for Dairy Establishments.
(ii) Furthermore, an application can be downloaded from http://agriculture.gov.mt/en/vprd/Documents/applic_eng.pdf​, filled accordingly (SECTION I: APPLICATION TO OPERATE AN ESTABLISHMENT TO PRODUCE MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS), and presented to Officials for further consultations.


Q5. What are the requirements for the placing on the market of ġbejniet?

A5. Dairy products and traditional dairy products (ġbejniet) that are produced with the intention of being placed on the market in and outside Malta shall only be produced in establishments which have obtained the necessary approval from the Director, and shall be marked with an identification mark in accordance with the requirements of Council Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004.
The production of dairy products and traditional dairy products (ġbejniet) cannot be placed on the market, be sold in wholesale or retail or directly to the final consumer over the farm gate or from any related premises or from any other place unless they are products originating from establishments as described above.


Q6. Can raw milk or raw cream be sold directly to the final consumer? Why?

A6. The placing on the market and donation or transfer within the territory of Malta of raw milk or raw cream intended for direct human consumption is prohibited.
Due to health reasons, milk has to be industrially pasteurised in order to ensure that the milk and cream being consumed does not impose any health risks.


Q7. (a) What has to be done to produce a new dairy product?
(b) Which dairy products can be produced?

Structural Requirements and Analytical Checks for Modified Approvals of Traditional Dairy Products Only:
1. More simplified changing rooms not necessarily attached to specific areas and for separate sexes.
2. Time area management of production areas in exchange with packing, storage or dispatch areas is possible.
3. Entry of raw materials, additives, packing materials and exit of finished product may be established through a single entry/exit with flexibility as long as the system used avoids cross-contamination.
4. Simplified HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) accepted.
5. Checks for Total Bacterial Count on raw milk as referred to in Council Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 in Annex III, Section IX, Chapter I, Part III, paragraph 2 shall be carried out before raw milk is to be used for production. The number of micro-organisms as referred to in Council Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 in Annex III, Section IX, Chapter I, Part III, paragraph 3 shall be set on a basis of the result of a test on an individual sample of raw milk twice a month.
6. Batch testing of product and shelf-life evaluation applied with flexibility.

Dairies producing traditional and other dairy products shall follow a full approval in line with Council Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004.

Structural Requirements and Analytical Checks for Full Approvals of Traditional Dairy Products and other Dairy Products:
1. 3 area sanitary locks for entry of personnel separate for the different areas and frequently for different sexes of employees.
2. Areas have to be identifiable, separate and dedicated.
3. Entries of raw materials, additives, packing materials and exit of finished product have to be separate and identifiable.
4. Full HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) has to be in place.
5. Checks for Total Bacterial Count on raw milk as referred to in Council Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 in Annex III, Section IX, Chapter I, Part III, paragraph 2 shall be carried out before raw milk is to be used for production. The number of micro-organisms as referred to in Council Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004 in Annex III, Section IX, Chapter I, Part III, paragraph 3 shall be set on a basis of the result of a test on an individual sample of raw milk twice a month.
6. Batch testing of product and shelf-life evaluation shall be carried out in accordance with microbiological criteria as referred to in Council Regulation (EC) No. 2073/2005.


Dr. Juan Giacomo Vella
Veterinary Officer