Food Law News - EU - 1996

2 July 1996: COMPOSITIONAL CONTROLS - Review of 7 Vertical Directives - Chocolate, Sugars, Honey, Fruit Juices, Preserved Milk, Coffee, Jams

MAFF Letter, 2 July 1996

Review of 7 Vertical Directives - Chocolate, Sugars, Honey, Fruit Juices, Preserved Milk, Coffee, Jams

The Commission has formally issued proposals to simplify 7 Directives which specify compositional and labelling requirements for certain foods. The Directives were all originally agreed between 1973 and 1980. This was before the full development of the "horizontal" labelling controls contained in Directive 79/112 and before the adoption of the "new approach" to Community food law which was incorporated into the Internal Market programme.

The seven proposals are based on a common structure consisting of an operative part followed by an Annex. The operative part contains provisions on the scope of the Directive, labelling and the committee procedure. The Annex contains the definitions and designations of the products and details of their composition.

The following point can be noted with regard to chocolate and cocoa - the most controversial issue. The main difficulty here was the present position whereby certain countries have used a provision allowing them to incorporate the addition of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter during chocolate production (up to 5% by weight). At present this practice is permitted by UK, Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, Austria, Finland and Sweden, but such products can not be sold in the other Member States. In the proposal, this practice will continue to be permitted but, under mutual recognition, their sale would be permitted throughout the Community subject to "a clear, neutral and objective indication of the presence of such substances". Products not including the cocoa butter substitutes could include a reference on the labelling to the fact that vegetable fats have not been used in their manufacture.

The formal adoption of the proposed Directives is complicated since 2 (chocolate and coffee) were originally adopted using Article 100a of the Treaty of Rome whilst the others used Article 43. This means that different procedures are required for their adoption. The proposals will now be considered by the European Parliament.

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