In June 1998, members were consulted by post and asked to consider advice from the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) and the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) on the use of the hemicellulase preparation, "Belase 210", which is derived from a genetically modified strain of Bacillus subtilis. They were also asked to consider the manufacturer's quality assurance procedures and the proposed specification for this enzyme preparation.
Members had agreed that the Committee should recommend full clearance for the enzyme preparation and that, in line with the existing arrangements for other enzymes used in bread, no special labelling requirements were required. The manufacturer has been informed of this decision, and of the Committee's suggestion that it should seek to have its quality system certified under ISO 9000.
In April 1998, the Committee's advice was sought on the future of the Lead in Food Regulations 1979 following the adoption of a European Commission (EC) proposal for a Regulation to set maximum limits for lead and cadmium in certain foods, which is currently under discussion. The Committee's initial view was that once the EC Regulation had been agreed, the UK Regulations should be revoked as the Food Safety Act 1990 would provide adequate consumer protection from lead for any foods not specifically covered by the new legislation. The responses to public consultation showed considerable support for the Committee's initial view and at this meeting the Committee confirmed its final advice that the current UK Regulations should be revoked once agreement is reached on the draft EC Regulation. It further agreed that officials should consult with the Local Authority Co-ordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards (LACOTS), manufacturers and retailers to ensure that there are effective controls to prevent foods containing undesirable levels of lead, but which are outside the scope of the EC Regulation, from reaching the market.
In February 1998, the Committee considered the use of canthaxanthin, an orange-red pigment added to animal feeds as a means of colouring egg yolks and the flesh of salmon and trout, and agreed that, as there were no consumer safety concerns at current usage levels, it should withdraw its previous advice that this colour should not be used in these feeds. However, members noted that there is currently no legal requirement to label foods to indicate the presence of colourants such as canthaxanthin which are added to animal feed, and agreed to review this issue at a future meeting.
At this meeting, the Committee considered further information on colourants and other substances which are added to animal feed with the purpose of having an effect on the final food. Various options concerning the provision of information for the ultimate consumer were discussed. Several members considered that of these, the provision of information in relevant MAFF/DH publications and, possibly, in publicity material produced by food producers and retailers might be a suitable way forward. The Committee agreed that further consideration should be given to labelling of foods which are coloured in this way, but felt that this needed to be examined in relation to other priorities for labelling. It agreed to return to this question in the context of wider labelling issues and recommended that research should be carried out to investigate consumers' requirements.