Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - EU - 2017

Commission Consultation, 5 September 2017

IRRADIATION - Commission consultation: Evaluation of Directive 1999/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 February 1999 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States concerning foods and food ingredients treated with ionising radiation

The Commission has published a draft 'EVALUATION AND FITNESS CHECK (FC) ROADMAP' for the evaluation of legislation related to the irradiation of food and food ingredients. The following is the initial section of the draft. The full draft Roadmap is available on this site. The consultation closes on the 3 October 2017. For more details, see:


Directives 1999/2/EC (framework Directive) and 1999/3/EC (implementing Directive) set out the legal framework to improve the free movement of irradiated foodstuffs within the single market. The purpose of this evaluation is to assess, in the light of the experience gained and technical progress made during their implementation, whether they are still fit for purpose. The evaluation will consider past and current performance and provide an assessment through five different criteria: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, EU-added value and coherence. The evaluation is expected to provide a sound evidence base which will be used to identify the need for any changes to the legislation.


Since its entry into force in 1999, no evaluation of the Directives has taken place, despite a considerable degree of scientific and technological development in the sector. An evaluation is therefore considered essential in the context of the Commission's better regulation policy to ensure that it is fit for purpose.

Every year the Commission publishes a report to the European Parliament and the Council based on information provided by Member States. The reports contain the results of checks carried out by Member States in irradiation facilities, including, in particular, the categories and quantities of foodstuff treated with ionising radiation and the doses administered, and the results of checks carried out at product marketing stage. Currently only one category of foodstuffs, dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasoning, is authorised for irradiation at EU level and may circulate freely within the single market. While Member States could agree on that category of foodstuffs where irradiation allows to address their inherent high microbial load and to ensure their safety, they preferred to stay with their national approaches on other types of foodstuffs. National authorisations for other foodstuffs thus exist in seven Member States (BE, CZ, FR, IT, NL, PL, UK) while other Member States may restrict or ban irradiated foodstuffs because they are not on the EU list. As there is only one category of irradiated foodstuffs able to circulate in the internal market, this may explain the continuous decline in the use of irradiation within the EU over the past 20 years whilst its use is steadily growing outside the EU (the Americas and Asia). As a consequence, competent authorities in the EU and third countries, together with European industry, are calling on a regular basis for an extension to the very limited scope of the application of the irradiation legislation.

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