Food Law News - EU - 2007

Council Minutes (16373/1/07 REV 1), 19 December 2007

ADDITIVES Council reaches political agreement on food improvement agents package

The following is an extract from the minutes of the 2841st Council meeting (Agriculture and Fisheries) of 17-19 December 2007

The Council reached an overall political agreement on a legislative package on food improvement agents.

After finalisation of the text, a common position will be adopted at a forthcoming Council meeting and forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading, in accordance with the codecision procedure.

The Parliament delivered its first-reading opinion on 10 July on all the Regulations and the Commission forwarded the corresponding amended legislative proposals on 24 October, mentioning the amendments that it could accept.

The package on food improvement agents aims at harmonising across the board, in accordance with the "farm to table" concept, the evaluation procedure for authorising food improvement agents and certain requirements concerning their labelling, in order to guarantee a high level of protection of human life and health and the interests of consumers, while ensuring the proper operation of the internal market.

The respective aims of the four Regulations are:

Common authorisation procedure for food improvement agents (16174/1/07 REV 1)

This Regulation establishes a uniform, centralised, efficient and transparent authorisation procedure based on a risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and a risk management

The Commission, on the basis of scientific assessments by the EFSA, establishes and updates a generic list for each category of substances concerned. Entering a substance in one of these lists implies that its use is permitted for all Community operators.

The three other proposals make placing of these substances on the Community market subject to compliance with harmonised criteria and the granting of a specific authorisation.

Food additives (16173/07)

The Regulation proposes that the common list of food additives be established by the committee procedure instead of the codecision procedure, as provided for in the existing Directive 89/107/EEC.

The legislative and technical review covers a dozen types of additives, including antioxidants, preservatives, colours and sweeteners.

Furthermore, this text imposes the obligation for a request for authorisation concerning additives consisting of genetically modified organisms, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003.

Food enzymes (16175/07)

The draft Regulation introduces for the first time a harmonised Community procedure for the authorisation of food enzymes. Previously, the use of enzymes in food was regulated at national level by each Member State .

Authorisation will be subject to a scientific assessment carried out by the EFSA, in particular into the toxicity or potentially allergenic nature of an enzyme.

At present, only two enzymes have been authorised under Directive 89/107/EEC: invertase (E 1103) and lysozyme (E 1105), because they are considered as additives. The other food enzymes were considered to be processing aids.

Food flavourings (16176/07)

The new proposal stipulates the fields of application of the legislation governing flavourings and supplements Regulation (EC) No 2232/96 with the following measures:

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