Food Law News - EU - 2002

EP News Report, 23 April 2002

LABELLING - Better food labelling to help allergy sufferers

The number of people affected by food allergies is increasing steadily, with an estimated 8% of children and 3% of adults currently believed to suffer from a range of problems, from reduced quality of life to life-threatening allergic reactions.

Accurate labelling of food ingredients is essential for allergy sufferers. Consequently, in a codecision report by Christa KLASS adopted unanimously on Tuesday, the Environment Committee strongly backed - with amendments - a Commission proposal seeking to update the current food labelling directive with a view to ensuring that all ingredients intentionally added to foodstuffs are listed on the label.

At present components of compound ingredients making up less than 25% of the finished product do not need not to be included in the list of ingredients. However, this provision (known as the 25% rule) was introduced into EU legislation more than 20 years ago with the aim of avoiding excessively long lists of ingredients at a time when food production was not as complex as nowadays.

Among the amendments adopted was one by the rapporteur demanding that celery and celery products be added to the list of allergenic ingredients. Other adopted amendments called for the list to include mustard, which is often used in ready-to-eat meals and can cause severe anaphylactic reactions, and lupin, which is used to make lupin flour.

This report under the codecision procedure, first reading, is scheduled for debate at the Strasbourg plenary session in June.

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