Food Law News - EU - 2003

Commission Press Release (IP/03/1652), 3 December 2003

ADDITIVES - Byrne welcomes Council adoption of new uses of food additives and improved rules for flavourings

The Council adopted an amendment of Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners. The amendment harmonises the use of food additives in flavourings at EU level in order to reduce unfair competition in this area and better serve the consumer. At the same time, the use of one new food additive as well as new uses of already authorised food additives will be allowed, while a number of other additives will be withdrawn since they are no longer widely used. The revised Directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. After at latest 18 months Member States must ensure that all new food products placed on the market comply with the Directive. "Food additives are an important part of food production since they can preserve nutritional quality, prolong durability and improve the taste and texture of food. Since we are mindful of ensuring food safety, their authorisation for use is always subject to a scientific safety evaluation", said David Byrne, the Commissioner responsible for Health and Consumer Protection. "I am also pleased that we are now harmonising the legislation for additives in flavourings, as this will ensure the same level of consumer protection in all Member States and fair competition between producers."

The use of food additives is harmonised, which means that it is legislated at EU-level rather than national level and only substances that are explicitly authorised may be used. Prior to their authorisation, food additives undergo an extensive safety evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority. In addition to safety, additives are examined in terms of whether or not they are needed and whether or not their use might mislead the consumer. The current legislation is now adapted in the light of recent technical and scientific developments, by allowing the use of one new food additive (hydrogenated poly-1-decene1) and new uses of some already authorised food additives as well as by withdrawing a few previously authorised additives.

Food additives are also used in flavourings, for example to preserve flavour. The lack of harmonisation at EU level has meant that the use of additives in flavourings varies between the Member States, hindering the free movement of flavourings and foodstuffs containing these flavourings, creating conditions of unfair competition as well as potential differences in consumer protection.

The present Directive harmonises EU legislation on additives necessary for the storage and use of flavourings. This will ensure the functioning of the internal market, a high level of protection of human health and the protection of consumer interests.

The Commission presented its proposal for this Regulation in November 2002. Already in July 2003, the European Parliament adopted amendments which were agreeable to both the Council and the Commission, paving the way for this quick final adoption by the Council.

Further information:

Food additives and flavourings web site of DG Health and Consumer Protection:

Hydrogenated poly-1-decene is a colourless, odourless and tasteless inert product. It is proposed for use as a glazing agent in confectionery and dried fruit to provide a protective coating. The Scientific Committee on Food opinion on hydrogenated-poly-1-decene can be read here:

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