FSA Letter (CPD/050, CPD/097, CPD/104), 5 July 2007
The Commission's Dietetic Foods Expert Working Group met on 27th June 2007 to coordinate the EC position on the gluten free Codex Standard and to discuss the draft reports to the Council and European Parliament on implementation of Article 9 of 89/398/EEC and diabetic foods. This letter provides an update on the discussions held at the Working Group meeting.
Coordination of EC position on Gluten-free Codex standard
Progress was made towards agreeing a co-ordinated position on the gluten free standard. The following issues were discussed.
1. Oats – Many EU Member States (MS) and other countries accept oats as part of a coeliac diet. The revised standard follows this line but notes that the acceptability, or otherwise, of oats should be determined at a national level and only after a suitable definition of what is meant by ‘certified pure oats' is agreed. The UK is particularly seeking views on whether we should accept certified pure oat products as part of a gluten free diet, and what this term should mean.
2. Threshold levels – MS are in favour of two threshold levels in the Standard:
a. 20ppm – Consisting of foods that are ‘naturally gluten free', that contain wheat starch with a gluten level in the final food below 20ppm and ‘certified pure oat foods' (this third category would only be applicable in the UK if pure oats were accepted as part of a gluten free diet on a national basis).
b. 100ppm – Consisting of or containing wheat durum, rye, barley or any Triticum species, their crossbred varieties or their constituents, which have been specifically prepared to reduce the gluten content.
3. Categories for labelling - MS are in favour of 3 categories for labelling:
a. ‘gluten-free' – A threshold of 20ppm would be set. This would apply to products containing wheat starch with a gluten level in the final food below 20ppm. It would also apply to those products that have been specially manufactured to replace gluten containing ingredients with non-gluten containing ingredients, and these could be further qualified as “naturally” gluten free.
b. ‘certified pure oats (suitable for coeliacs)' – A threshold of 20ppm would be set. This would apply to oat products which have been specifically prepared to not contain any ‘gluten', (this category would only be applicable in the UK if pure oats were accepted as part of a gluten free diet on a national basis).
c. ‘reduced gluten (suitable for coeliacs)' – A threshold of 100pm would be set. This would apply to products outlined in section 2b above.
To help inform the UK position, the Agency would welcome views on any of the above issues by 3rd August 2007.
Draft report from the Commission to the Council and European Parliament: On the implementation of Article 9 of Council Directive 89/398/EEC on the approximation of the laws of Member States relating to foodstuffs for particular nutritional uses.
Article 9(5) of Directive 89/398/EEC (as amended) requires the Commission to produce a report for the Council and European Parliament on the functioning and use of Article 9 of Directive 89/398/EEC across MS. Article 9 of Directive 89/398/EEC lays down a notification procedure which applies to parnuts foods which do not belong to one of the groups listed in Annex I of the Directive. The WG discussed the draft report, focusing on the differences in the implementation and interpretation of Article 9 notifications between MS. Overall, it was agreed that there is a need to clarify the scope of 89/398/EEC to facilitate a more harmonised approach between MS when considering Article 9 parnuts foods. The Commission has indicated that work to revise Directive 96/8/EC to include ‘very low calorie diet foods' is unlikely to be taken forward until after the revision of Directive 89/398/EC is complete.
The Agency would welcome comments from UK stakeholders regarding changes to Directive 89/398/EEC by 3rd August 2007. Stakeholders who wish to propose specific amendments to the Directive are invited to submit evidence to the Agency in support of their proposals.
Draft Report on foods for persons suffering from carbohydrate metabolism disorders (diabetes)
Article 4b of Directive 89/398/EEC (as amended), noted that the Commission shall draft a report on the desirability of special provisions for foods for persons suffering from carbohydrate-metabolism disorders (diabetes). The Commission circulated a draft report, including various legislative options for diabetic foods prior to the meeting. The proposed legislative options being considered by the Commission are outlined below:
The WG discussed the pros and cons of the legislative options put forward by the Commission for diabetic foods. There was consensus that there is no scientific basis upon which to create a specific Directive to cover diabetic foods (option A). However, discussions over whether foods labelled as ‘suitable for diabetics' should be controlled either under Article 9 of the framework Directive (option B) or taken out of the parnuts legislation altogether (option C) were inconclusive. MS were asked to consider the implications of removing foods labelled as ‘suitable for diabetics' from the parnuts framework. The joint Food Standards Agency/Diabetes UK position on ‘diabetic foods' can be found on the Agency website at: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/webpage/82458.
The Agency would welcome comments from UK stakeholders regarding the three legislative options on diabetic foods as proposed by the Commission. Stakeholders who wish to propose specific options are invited to submit evidence to the Agency in support of their proposals.
The Commission will re-draft the revised Codex Standard for “gluten-free foods” incorporating the above points. This will be sent to all MS for comment before the next WG meeting to be held in September 2007. The Commission will also produce updated drafts of the reports on the implementation of Article 9 of Council Directive 89/398/EEC and on foods for persons suffering from carbohydrate metabolism disorders (diabetes) for discussion and finalisation at the September WG meeting.
The Agency will notify UK stakeholders when the Commission publish their reports on the implementation of Article 9 of Directive 89/398/EEC and on the desirability of special provisions for foods for persons suffering from carbohydrate-metabolism disorders (diabetes).