FSA Consultation Letter, 28 October 2004
The FSA is seeking views on a European Commission proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive amending Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners for the sixth time and Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs for the third time. Responses are requested by: 21 January 2005
[Note: the Proposal is available in COM (2004) 0650 - see also EU News Item 11 October 2004]
Although the standard twelve week consultation period will be allowed, the FSA understand that the Dutch Presidency will be holding initial discussions on the proposal at the end of November so early responses would be appreciated in order to inform their negotiating position.
The key points of the proposal are as follows:
Amendments to Directive 95/2/EC
However, at the request of the UK, supported by Ireland, the existing system of control, based on maximum residual levels of nitrites/nitrates in the food as sold, have been maintained for certain traditional UK meat products, such as Wiltshire cured ham, bacon and similar products. The UK meat products industry claim that it would be impossible to produce these speciality foods which use a 'live' brine in the curing process by controlling added amounts of nitrite/nitrate as it is impossible to specify in-going amounts. The products do however comply with the current controls on residual amounts of nitrite/nitrate.
Amendment to Directive 94/35/EC
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 five previous occasions. European Parliament and Council Directive 94/35/EC harmonised the use of sweeteners for use in foodstuffs throughout the EU. It has been amended twice.
The proposed amendment (COM (2004) 650 final) has three main purposes. The first is to amend Directive 95/2/EC to take account of EFSA's opinions on nitrites and nitrates and on parabens. The second is to make permanent the suspension of gelling agents in jelly mini-cups in Commission Decision 2004/374/EC. The third is to update existing entries in Directives 95/2/EC and 94/35/EC to take account of SCF and EFSA opinions on new additive approvals, and to extend the uses of existing additives in line with industry's requests and that of a new Member State, Hungary.
The proposed amendments have previously been discussed at European Commission Working Groups on food additives. The Commission's formal proposal will be discussed at a Council Working Group chaired by the Dutch Presidency, possibly at the end of November 2004.
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.
Coming into force
Member States are required to implement the new Directive into national legislation within 18 months of its coming into force. Industry will be allowed 24 months from its coming into force date to trade in and use products not complying with the Directive's provisions. A provision for using up old stocks of products marketed or labelled before the period of 24 months has elapsed and which are no longer permitted by the Directive has also been included.
The Directive will be implemented in England by further amendments to the Miscellaneous Food Additives Regulations 1995 and the Sweeteners in Food 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.