FSA Consultation Letter, 2 September 2002
This consultation seeks views on a European Commission proposal for a fourth amendment to Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners. Given below is a short summary of the proposal together with some background information.
The European Commission has recently published a proposal to amend Directive
95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners for the fourth time.
The sole aim of the proposal is:
to modify the authorisation in Annex IV of the Directive for the use of konjac (E 425) in order to prohibit its use in jelly confectionery, including jelly mini-cups.
European Parliament and Council Directive 95/2/EC harmonised the use of food additives other than colours and sweeteners (referred to in UK legislation as miscellaneous food additives) throughout the EU. It has been amended on three previous occasions. It contains lists of permitted food additives, lists of the foods in which they may be used and conditions of use. Konjac (E 425) is used as a thickener and is permitted under an earlier amendment to Directive 95/2/EC to be used in a wide range of foods.
Following a number of deaths of children and elderly people in third countries from choking while consuming jelly mini-cups containing konjac, the Commission used emergency measures to suspend the marketing and use of all jelly confectionery containing konjac, including jelly mini-cups and the import of these products into the EU. This action was introduced by the adoption of Commission Decision 2002/247/EC on 27 March.
The proposal to amend Directive 95/2/EC is intended to complement the action introduced by Commission Decision 2002/247/EC which suspended the marketing, use and import into the EU of jelly confectionery containing konjac, including jelly mini-cups. The jelly mini-cups in particular pose a particular risk to consumers of choking both because of the shape and size of this type of confectionery and the chemical and physical properties of konjac.
The FSA understand that EU manufacturers use very little konjac in jelly confectionery and do not currently manufacture jelly mini-cups. Other permitted additives that perform a similar function in jelly confectionery will not be affected by this proposal. The effect of this proposal on industry is therefore considered to be minimal and no assessment of its impact on business in the form of a Regulatory Impact Assessment has been prepared at this stage. Industry recipients are invited to let us know if this assumption is not correct and to provide estimates of any financial costs likely to be incurred in complying with the proposed amendment.
The Commission has indicated that it wishes to proceed quickly with this measure, and Denmark has also 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 on this proposal is likely to take place in the next few months, this consultation will be subject to a shorter deadline than the standard period of twelve weeks so that we can be prepared to take account of any views expressed when negotiations commence in Brussels. Comments on this proposal should therefore be submitted as soon as possible, and if possible by 20 September 2002.
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 EU Co-decision procedure. The proposal will therefore be considered both by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
Once the amending Directive is agreed by both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, it will need to be implemented in the UK. The Directive will be implemented in England by a further amendment to the Miscellaneous Food Additives Regulations 1995 and will also be implemented separately in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Before new regulations are implemented in the UK, they will be subject to separate consultation exercises in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.