DH Interested Parties Letter, 28 January 2011
The first meeting of the ‘Working Group on the revision of the nutrition labelling Directive – Technical Issues’ took place in Brussels on 24 January 2011. The meeting was held to discuss the drafting of Commission guidance on the setting of tolerances for nutrient values declared on food labels; and guidance on the definition and methods of analysis for fibre. The Commission issued two questionnaires in 2009 to gather Member States (MS) views on both of these issues, the answers to which formed the basis of discussions at this meeting. This note outlines the main issues discussed.
Tolerances for nutrient values declared on a label
Discussions focussed on the general principles and objectives of setting tolerances. There was general agreement that tolerances need to be meaningful for consumers, whilst both practical and proportionate for industry and enforcers. It is clear that there are a number of technical issues that will need to be considered in future discussions, particularly surrounding the precise figures for food and assessing the need for separate tolerances for other foods such as food supplements and infant formulas. Decisions on whether to include analytical uncertainty in the tolerance will also need to be reviewed further. Consideration is needed on how tolerances will apply to foods where processing practices are not as tightly controlled, such as non-prepacked foods and foods sold by caterers. There was general agreement that guidance on rounding is needed and should be included in the guidance on tolerances.
Implementation of the definition of fibre- methods of analysis
There was a short discussion based on a Commission paper on the definition of fibre and methods of analysis. Few MS offered views and there was no clear consensus as to whether guidance in this area should recommend a limited list of accredited methods, or use the list of methods discussed at CODEX as the basis for future discussions.
There was agreement that guidance should go further than simply listing a number of methodologies. Rather, it should include information on how to use these methods for different foods and particularly the implications of using a number of different methods in conjunction. Further detailed discussion is clearly required to progress this work.
The Commission was unable to commit to a timetable for future work and did not indicate when the next meeting will be held.