Food Law News - EU - 2005

European Parliament, 27 October 2005

ADDITIVES - Food additives and sweeteners under review: EP Discussions

The European Parliament approved today a report which scrutinizes various kinds of substances which may be added in foodstuffs or which should be restricted in the light of recent technical and scientific developments. This report by Mojca DRCAR MURKO (ALDE, SI) was adopted with 556 votes in favour, 98 against and 8 abstentions.

Two years ago the Commission announced its intention to propose a general revision of the legislation on food additives but since it is not ready yet, some interim corrections are needed. The report adopted today deals with the updating of two former directives :

- Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners (amended five times since 1995);

- Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs (amended twice since 1994).

These revisions deal, in particular, with authorisation of new substances and revision of the positive list of permitted additives. The residual levels of nitrites and nitrates for instance will be revised. The European Food Safety Agency recommends that the levels of nitrite and nitrate are set down in the legislation as “added amount”. EFSA is of the opinion that monitoring of residual levels of nitrite and nitrate in the final products is of limited value. MEPs shared this view.

Many national exemptions for traditional products have been endorsed by MEPs, under detailed conditions, in order to facilitate an agreement at the first reading stage. In order to protect people suffering from allergies, restrictions are introduced for soybean hemicellulose which should not be permitted for unprocessed food in which it is not expected to be found. On the other hand, some products are added to the positive list of authorised additives like pullulan (a new polysaccharide), TBHQ (an antioxidant) and starch aluminium. The new Directive modifies provisions regarding the use of sulphites in cooked crustaceans, table grapes and lychees. Amendments asking for a re-evaluation of aspartame and of two antibiotics used as food supplements were rejected.

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