Food Law News - EU - 2005

EP News Report, 26 April 2005

FORTIFICATION - EP Parliament Committee discussions: what vitamins do we want on our plates?

Food and health remain the centre of attention at the EP Environment Committee. Following the report on health and nutrition claims on food labels last week (see News Report of 22 April), MEPs gave their views on 26 April on the addition of vitamins and minerals to food. A report on this subject by Karin SCHEELE (PES, AT) was adopted by 49 votes to 5 with no abstentions.

The European Commission is proposing a regulation to replace the current patchwork of national rules with uniform EU standards. The additives in question are virtually banned in some countries but authorised in others, albeit with a wide range of restrictions. As a result, "fortified" products cannot always be sold everywhere in the single market. The new regulation, like the one on food health claims, would rectify this situation while ensuring that consumers are properly protected.

The regulation sets out a positive list of over 100 vitamin formulations and mineral substances which may be added to foods. However, it bans the addition of these substances to fresh non-processed produce such as fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, and to beverages containing more than 1.2% by volume of alcohol. But MEPs voted to exempt tonic wines, which are sold primarily in the United Kingdom , and the addition of certain substances that help combat the trade in counterfeit spirits.

The Environment Committee did not vote against the regulation's requirement for detailed nutrition labelling, as it did in the case of the regulation on food health claims, but it did tighten up the wording of the Commission proposal: MEPs want manufacturers to be obliged to state a recommended daily intake and to put a warning not to exceed the recommended daily allowance.

The list of authorised vitamins and minerals, as well as the list of products to which these substances may not be added, can be amended at a later stage by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. And lastly, this standing committee may, at the request of Member States, draw up a negative list of substances which are banned, restricted or "under Community scrutiny".

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