Food Law News - EU - 2001

FSA Letter, 6 March 2001

LABELLING - Labelling of Foods Containing Caffeine And Quinine

The European Commission is considering the need to require foods to which caffeine or quinine has been added to carry labelling which makes their presence clear to the consumer.

At a meeting in Brussels on 19th February, the Labelling Experts Working Group considered a short discussion paper on this prepared by the Commission. Caffeine and quinine are given in the paper as examples of ingredients or substances that may adversely affect certain persons if consumed in excess (or if consumed at all in some cases). The paper highlights the labelling exemptions that could lead to consumers being unable to identify caffeine or quinine used as ingredients in food:

In assessing whether to make changes to food labelling rules, the Commission considers that the minimum objective should be the need to ensure that the presence of caffeine and quinine as an ingredient in any food is clearly indicated on the label, and suggests two solutions:

In respect of caffeine, you may be aware that the Food Advisory Committee has advised that soft drinks containing levels of caffeine greater than 125 mg/1 should carry a clear statement on the label about the levels of caffeine present and an indication that they are unsuitable for young children or those sensitive to caffeine. The FSA's initial view is that this approach should be adopted in Community legislation.

At the meeting on 19th February, the Commission made clear its intention to draw up proposals for consideration by the Standing Committee for Foodstuffs. The FSA are not sure when such proposals are likely to be discussed, but it is possible they could be ready in time for the next meeting of the Committee in April (4th-5th).

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