Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Consultation Letter, 20 August 2003

ADDITVES - Conditions of use for food additive E425 (konjac)

The FSA letter is a consultation on draft regulations implementing European Parliament and Council Directive 2003/52/EC amending directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners as regards the conditions of use for food additive E425 (konjac). Responses are requested by: 11 November 2003

Consultation details

Further to the adoption of the above Directive, a copy of draft Regulations which will amend the Miscellaneous Food Additives Regulations 1995 is now available. These will implement the Directive in England.

Directive 2003/52/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 three previous occasions. It contains lists of permitted food additives, the categories of the foods in which they may be used and conditions for their use. Konjac (E 425) is used as a thickener and is permitted under an earlier amendment to Directive 95/2/EC to be used in a wide range of foods.

Directive 2003/52/EC of 18 June 2003, which was published in the Official Journal of the European Communities (L 178) on 17 July 2003, amends Directive 95/2 for the fourth time to prohibit the use of E 425 (konjac) in jelly confectionery, including so called 'jelly mini-cup' sweets. It is intended to complement the action introduced by Commission Decision 2002/247/EC which suspended the marketing, use and import into the EU of jelly confectionery containing konjac, including jelly mini-cups. This followed a number of deaths of children and elderly people in third countries from choking while consuming jelly mini-cups containing konjac. The jelly mini-cups in particular pose a particular risk to consumers of choking both because of the shape and size of this type of confectionery and the chemical and physical properties of konjac.

The proposed regulations

The Miscellaneous Food Additives Regulations 1995 have been amended three times (in 1997, 1999, and 2001) to implement previous amendments to Directive 95/2/EC. The 1999 amendment included an entry in Schedule 3 which permitted konjac E 425 to be used in foods in general at a maximum level of 10 g/kg, with the exception of foods listed in Schedules 6, 7 and 8 of the Regulations. The draft Miscellaneous Food Additives (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2003 will implement the provisions of Directive 2003/52/EC by adding jelly confectionery, including jelly mini-cups, to the list of foods not permitted to contain konjac.

Member States are required to implement the provisions of the new Directive into national legislation before 17 January 2004. It is planned that the new regulations will come into force in England on 1 January 2004 to ensure that this important consumer health measure takes effect as quickly as possible.

Devolved administrations

FSA colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are drawing up their own regulations to implement the new Directive and are carrying out similar consultation exercises.

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