Food Law News - EU - 2009

FSA Interested Parties Update, 21 July 2009

CLAIMS - Food Standards Agency Update Following Discussions in Commission Working Group on Implementing Regulation 1924/2006 on Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation

The FSA has issued the following update following the meeting held on 17 July 2009

Amendments to the Nutrition Claims Annex

Representatives from the Industry umbrella trade organisation, the CIAA, presented proposals for amendments to the nutrition claims annex and answered questions. The Commission said it would propose two legal instruments, one covering fatty acid claims (not discussed at this meeting), and the second covering any other amendments. It thought that the second proposal should focus on priority claims and noted that the CIAA has not yet agreed a short-list with its membership. Member States had different views on which claims should be prioritised, but there was support for a reformulation claim (10% less), provided it represented a significant reduction, referred to an identifiable reference product and was time limited. Some thought it should be a condition of use that there be a reduction in total energy of the product. Other amendments of interest were: a change in the criteria for “reduced” to 25%; an exemption for sweeteners in the conditions for “no added sugars”; further alignment with Codex and other legislation where necessary (it was not clear how many of the CIAA proposals would be deemed necessary); and in light of impending EFSA opinions on carbohydrates and GI claims under Article 13, some Member States were open to considering proposed amendments here – however, others were not.

Member States were asked to confirm positions in writing for a final discussion in September before a vote in Standing Committee on 2 October.

Article 13 claims

The Commission informed Member States of a press release which announced that (EFSA) has decided to publish its opinions on Article 13 health claims in several batches, starting in September 2009. This clarified the position considered in earlier discussions where it was proposed that all opinions would be published in one go, once EFSA had finished all its work on the Article 13 list. The Commission will propose risk management measures after the first published opinions, but it was not clear if the intention was to build the list piecemeal, or to discuss opinions as published, but have one decision once all opinions have been received.

Feedback from the ad hoc meeting in June was given. The Cion announced that EFSA was unable to assess certain claims, and a list of these would be sent to Member States, for comment by mid-September. The consequence of this is likely to be that these claims are withdrawn from the Article 13 process, but Member States must propose withdrawal. Assessment might still be possible after withdrawal, but only via the Article 13(5) process, and a separate application would be necessary. Reasons for inability to assess would be spelled out in the list using the EFSA codes. Missing claims should now have been dealt with, and a separate list for submission of these claims to EFSA is being prepared.

EFSA opinions

This was an opportunity to raise any issues around recent EFSA opinions before a more substantive discussion once the Commission propose a decision on the claim application. The Cion turned to the negative opinions for Natural push-up and Bimuno probiotics. No comments from Member States. There was some discussion on the

claim for Water soluble tomato concentrate, and the Commission was still listening before finalising its decision. Conditions of Use still worried some Member States, but the Commission thought it necessary to include the complete reference to platelet aggregation as this was central to the positive EFSA opinion.

Date of next meeting: 17 September (provisional).

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