Food Law News - EU - 2000
FSA Letter, 11 August 2000
NUTRIENTS - Draft Proposal for a Directive on the Addition of Nutrients to Foods
The EU White Paper on Food Safety commits the European Commission to introducing various measures to help improve food safety standards for the consumer. As part of this commitment the Commission has prepared the a draft proposal for a Council Directive on the addition of nutrients to food. The proposal is only at the draft stage but it will be discussed at a Commission Working Group meeting on 5 September.
The objective of the proposal is to facilitate intra-Community trade by providing a harmonised regulatory framework for fortification of food. The proposals:
- Apply to the voluntary addition of nutrients to foods only, they do not affect current Community rules already in force;
- Apply to vitamins and minerals only;
- Specify the purposes of fortification;
- Propose a positive list of vitamins and minerals (as set out in Annex 1 to the draft proposal Directive);
- Propose a positive list of chemical substances to be used as sources of these vitamins/minerals (as set out in Annex 2 of the draft proposal Directive);
- Propose maximum limits based on scientifically based risk assessment;
- Propose a minimum level in accordance with that defined in the Annex of Directive 90/496/EEC on nutrition labelling for foodstuffs;
- Prohibit labelling which misleads or implies that a balanced diet is not a sufficient source of nutrients; and
- Enable Member States to require notification of products when they are placed on the market.
The FSA is seeking views on the detailed EU proposal and would also like views on the following broader issues:
- Should the UK seek to maintain its current approach to the control of foods with added nutrients, which permits the addition of any nutrients to foods so long as the product complies with general food safety requirements? This policy was confirmed following a public consultation on food fortification in 1997. Some Member States only permit the addition of nutrients in case of nutritional need or restoration or substitution (i.e. to restore vitamins or minerals lost in the process of manufacture/cooking but not to enhance the vitamin content beyond the natural occurring level).
- Should there be any restrictions on the types of foods that can have nutrients added, or on the addition of nutrients to foods that are promoted for certain groups of the population e.g. children?
- How can methodologies for setting maximum levels for the addition of nutrients and dietary supplements take into account the contribution of all these products?
A separate public consultation on the specific issue of fortification of flour with folic acid is currently underway on the report Folic Acid and Prevention of Disease by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA). The report concluded that fortification of flour with folic acid would significantly reduce the incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs) in the UK. The folic acid consultation is available on www.doh.gov.uk/folicacid.
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