Food Law News - EU - 2003

EP Daily News, 22 October 2003

ADDITIVES - Parliament requires closer monitoring of new sweeteners

Report on the Council common position with a view to the adoption of a European Parliament and Council Directive amending Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs

Parliament adopted a legislative resolution to bring two new products - salt of aspartame-acesulfame and sucralose - within the scope of the 1994 directive on the use of sweeteners.

First, Parliament succeeded in obliging the Commission to report to Parliament on progress made in the re-evaluations of all additives, in particular salt of aspartame-acesulfame and sucralose, within two years of the directive's entry into force, but nor before. Although the Scientific Committee on Food consulted by the Commission has given aspartame the green light, according to some scientific opinion it can cause brain tumours. The other component, acesulfame, could be carcinogenic, say some sources. And some scientists believe there are even more problems in any combination of the two sweeteners. By contrast, there are at present few indications that sucralose may be harmful.

Secondly, MEPs refuse at present to allow the Commission the right which it is demanding to decide whether a substance is a sweetener or not. MEPs believe this right should only be granted at a later stage, when the entire framework legislation has been amended. The Commission is planning to bring forward draft legislation on this in the next few months.

Lastly, to prevent transitional exemptions being abused, the House argues that products which do not meet the requirements of this legislation should not remain on the market more than 24 months after the legislation enters into force. The Council, on the other hand, was prepared to allow sales to continue until stocks run out, which could lead to an artificial build-up of stocks as a means of getting round this cut-off point.

To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.