Food Law News - EU - 2002


FSA Letter, 31 July 2002

ADDITIVES - Proposal for an amendment to directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs

[See also News Item 17 July 2002 and the Proposal at COM (2002) 0375]

The Food Standards Agency is consulting on a proposal from the European Commission for an amendment to Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs. A covering note (Annex 1) along with document COM (2002) 375, which sets out the text of the proposal and the Commission's explanatory memorandum (Annex 2). The closing date for comments is 6 September 2002.

The Proposal

The European Commission has published its proposal for amendment of Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs. The three main elements of this proposal are:

Discussion

The Commission proposes to allocate the numbers 'E955' to sucralose and 'E962' to aspartame - acesulfame salt. The allocation of an 'E' number for aspartame - acesulfame salt may give rise to the impression that the salt is a completely new additive. The salt is a chemical combination of two sweeteners already approved for use in the European Union. It is being proposed for use in all the food categories already established for its constituents, aspartame (E951) and acesulfame K (E950). Maximum levels of use for the salt are derived from the maximum levels for these two sweeteners. The proposed amendment includes a requirement that these levels should not be exceeded by the use of the individual sweeteners in combination with aspartame - acesulfame salt.

Temporary national authorisation has recently been given to market sucralose in the UK and the Agency is currently consulting on a similar authorisation for aspartame - acesulfame salt. These authorisations are permitted under Article 5 of the Food Additives Framework Directive (89/107/EEC) and are not affected by the current Commission proposal.

Denmark has indicated that implementation of food safety legislation is a priority for the term of its Presidency of the EU, which runs from July to December 2002. As discussion of this proposal has been scheduled to take place in September and October, this consultation will be subject to a shorter deadline than the standard period of twelve weeks. Comments on this proposal should therefore be submitted by 6 September 2002. In addition to commenting on the changes proposed by the Commission, respondents may wish to address other aspects of the current Directive 94/35/EC that they think should be considered for amendment. Industry recipients are invited to provide estimates of any financial costs likely to be incurred in complying with the proposed amendments.

Procedure

In the UK, this proposal will be examined by the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee and the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities.

The adoption of this measure is subject to the EC Co-decision procedure. The proposal will therefore be debated by the European Parliament, whose views will be taken into account before Member States reach a Common Position on the necessary amendments.

Once the amending Directive is agreed by the Council and European Parliament, implementation in the UK will require an amendment to the Sweeteners in Food Regulations 1995 (as amended) and parallel legislation in Northern Ireland. These amendments will be taken forward in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and would, in turn, be subject to separate consultation exercises.

Comments and views should be received no later than 6 September 2002.

 


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