Food Law News - EU - 2002

EP News Report, 20 February 2002

SUPPLEMENTS - Environment Committee passes common position on food supplements

The Environment Committee has adopted with 36 votes in favour, 18 against and 3 abstentions the draft recommendation for second reading by Emilia Franziska MÜLLER (EPP-ED, D) on a directive to approximate national laws on food supplements. Most MEPs felt that the Council's common position could be adopted with some minor changes as it constituted, overall, a balanced legal framework for food supplements and that it was consonant with the directive's main aims regarding the free movement of food supplements and consumer protection. However, a considerable minority of MEPs from different political groups took the view that the common position should be rejected, arguing that, given the different cultures in the Member States and the fact that an absence of legislation had so far caused no problems, there was no need for a directive in this area.

The directive has two aims: firstly to harmonise national legal provisions on food supplements and secondly to establish an appropriate level of consumer protection for the use of food supplements in EU Member States. At first reading Parliament adopted amendments calling for ingredients such as amino acids, fatty acids and herbal extracts to be brought within the scope of the directive, for the labelling of products covered by the directive to always include the words 'food supplement' and for a range of warnings to be included.

Council incorporated most of these points in its common position. In addition, account was taken of Parliament's position regarding substances omitted from the proposed directive, and an inspection mechanism over a period of five years was proposed.

This draft recommendation (codecision, second reading) is scheduled for plenary debate at the March session in Strasbourg.

N.B. The rapporteur and several members of the committee complained of having been bombarded with emails on this subject from lobbyists, whose activities they felt had been far too intrusive - and indeed counterproductive - in this particular case.

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