Food Law News - UK - 2005


FSA Consultation Letter, 7 January 2005

WATER Consultation on draft Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Amendment) (No 2) (England) Regulations

Note that although the letter refers to 2004', it is presumably supposed to read 2005'. Copies of the draft regulations can be found on the FSA web site at: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/naturalwatersi2.pdf

The FSA are seeking comments on the draft Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Amendment) (No. 2) ( England ) Regulations 2004. These Regulations transpose into UK law the provisions from Directive 80/777/EEC relating to the claim 'suitable for the preparation of infant food'. Responses are requested by: 4 April 2005

Consultation details

The key proposals are:

The proposed changes are as follows:

(a) re-introduce a limit for bromate in natural mineral water that is not subject to the authorised treatment. This limit was a provision in the Regulations until Commission Directive 2003/40 was implemented by the Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2004, and

(b) set more appropriate limits for pH in spring water and bottled drinking water as the current limits are too restrictive for bottled water and there are no health concerns with the proposed, less restrictive, limits.

These Regulations are intended to apply only in England . Parallel amending Regulations will apply in Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland .

Background

Further amendment provisions for regulations enforcing Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water for human consumption came into force on 3 April 2003 (The Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2003, S.I. 666). These regulations were initially prepared as a joint document with the infant feeding claim regulations. However in order to complete the transposition of Directive 98/83/EC as soon as possible, the draft S.I. was split and the provisions relating to 98/83/EC were made while issues that the Commission had raised in relation to the infant feeding claim were considered.

A public consultation was undertaken in two phases to seek comments on the implementation of these provisions. As a result of the first phase of consultation (March June 2001) and internal discussion, the initial draft of the regulations was amended markedly in certain respects. More specifically, a provision was added making it an offence to sell natural mineral water labelled as suitable for infant feeding without complying with the specified labelling and compositional requirements was added. The second phase of the consultation (November 2001 - January 2002) related to the implementation of Council Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption, which relate to bottled drinking waters and spring waters.

A technical notification (2002/0004/UK ( England )) was made to the Commission on 3 January 2002 . While issues raised by the Commission in relation to the infant feeding claim were considered, the decision was made to split the Regulations into two. This was possible because no time limits were imposed on Member States for transposition of the parts of the legislation dealing with infant feeding claims. Consequently, the transposition of provisions relating to Directive 98/83/EC was completed and took account of the comments made by the Commission. It came into force on 3 April 2003 (S.I.666).

The Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Amendment) (No. 2) ( England ) Regulations 2004 will come into force as soon after the consultation and technical notification standstill period as is reasonably practicable. They will amend the Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water Regulations further. Following advice from COMA in 1999 (The Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition), which has now been disbanded, the limits for the key components set in this amendment equate to those required in tap water and other bottled waters.

Date of compliance

Article 9, paragraph 3 of Council Directive 80/777/EEC allows Member States to bring into force provisions on infant feeding claims for natural mineral water. There is no time restriction on the implementation of this legislation. All of the provisions contained within the new legislation are voluntary provided that the compositional requirements are met, and will only apply to products wanting to make the claim. However, any products that do not meet the requirements will not be able to make the claim. Manufacturers of natural mineral water, spring water and bottled drinking water that comply with the requirements of the Regulations, and wish to make the claim will be able to do so from the time the regulations come into force.

As the regulations relate to national measures they have been notified to the European Commission. This means that there will be a 12 week standstill period whilst the new provisions are considered by Member States. This may be followed by a further standstill period if there are any objections to the provisions of our regulations. Consequently, it is not possible to propose a coming into force date at this stage. As the provisions of the Regulations are mostly voluntary provided that compositional requirements are met, it is unlikely that this will be controversial.

Objectives of the new regulations

(a) re-introduce a limit for bromate in natural mineral water that is not subject to the authorised treatment. This limit was a provision in the Regulations until Commission Directive 2003/40 was implemented by the Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2004, and

(b) set more appropriate limits for pH in spring water and bottled drinking water as the current limits are too restrictive for bottled water and there are no health concerns with the proposed, less restrictive, limits.

Comments

The FSA welcome comments on the draft Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Amendment) (No. 2) (England) 2004, and in particular, on:

They also welcome comments on the Partial RIA available on the FSA web site.


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