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European Commission unveils its 'new deal for consumers'

April 2018

 

The so-called New Deal for Consumers consists of the revision of several EU consumer and marketing directives to guarantee that all European consumers benefit from their rights under the Union law.

 

The package comprises two proposals for directives which are aimed at modernising EU consumer protection rules and improving tools for stopping illegal practices. These would introduce, for example, the possibility to bring collective redress on behalf of a group of consumers that have been harmed by an illegal commercial practice.

 

As expected, one of the proposals includes amendments to the Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices (UCPD) to incorporate ‘dual quality’ (for food and non-food products) as a potential misleading commercial practice.

 

The proposals will be transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council review and adoption is anticipated before the end of the current legislature in May 2019.

 

Standing committee adopts draft regulation on origin labelling

16 April 2018

 

The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) adopted a new regulation on the rules for indicating the country of origin, or place of provenance, of the primary ingredient of a food [See Article 26(3) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on food information to consumers].

 

The regulation addresses cases where the country of origin or place of provenance is either mandatory or is voluntarily provided through any indication such as statements, terms, pictorial presentation or symbols. The agreed text excludes trademarks (pending the adoption of additional specific rules) and the transitional period has been extended until 1 April 2020, in line with request from the wider food industry.

 

The final text of the measure is expected to be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities in the coming weeks.

 

New ESA infographic on savoury snacks and salt

April 2018

 

The infographic, now available for download from the ESA website, has been developed as a first response to the threat posed by discriminatory salt taxation.

 

The document stresses that savoury snack products are on average very low contributors to salt intake in the European diet and should therefore not be considered as a priority target.

 

The secretariat will use the infographic as a support tool for outreach activities in Brussels. ESA members are also encouraged to use it for all purposes in the context of their respective activities at national level.

 

Major food and drink reformulation initiative announced in Spain

February 2018


The Spanish government and the country's food industry association (FIAB) have presented an ambitious plan to cut the content of sugar, salt and saturated fat in more than 3,500 food and drink products over the next three years.

The initiative called Collaboration Plan for the Improvement of Food and Beverages and Other Measures (2017-2020) has received the voluntary commitment of more than 500 companies and sectors including manufacturers, retailers and caterers to public schools and hospitals. The plan covers 13 food categories including savoury snacks, for which two specific commitments have been made on further reductions on levels of salt and saturated fats in products.

Public consultation on reducing marine litter

February 2018


Earlier this year, as part of its Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, the European Commission launched a consultation to gather stakeholders’ view on how to address the issue of single use plastics and marine litter.

The questionnaire included specific questions on crisps bags as these have been identified amongst the top ten items most commonly found in beach litter. ESA submitted a contribution to the consultation providing general comments on plastics littering and more specific elements in relation to savoury snacks packaging.

Based on this consultation and an ongoing impact assessment, the European Commission will present a legislative proposal before the summer.

Establishment of maximum Levels for total aflatoxins in ready-to-eat peanuts

February 2018

 

Despite two-rounds of consultation, there remains a lack of consensus within the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Contaminants in Foods (CCCF) on proposals regarding the most appropriate maximum levels (MLs) for aflatoxins in ready-to-eat (RTE) peanuts.

Ahead of the 12th session of the CCCF, scheduled to take place in Utrecht, NL, from 12-16 March, the electronic working group led by India presented the conclusions of the previous consultation rounds and its recommendation for an ML of 10 μg/kg for aflatoxins (total) in RTE peanuts. However, two member countries and two member organizations have instead supported a higher ML of 15 μg/kg.

CCCF requested comments on the proposed levels of 10 μg/kg or 15 μg/kg at the beginning of 2018, and the secretariat can of course still submit comments on behalf of members (deadline end of February). The full document can be viewed here.

EU Parliament moves to set up special committee on pesticides

January 2018

 

A move to set up a special committee to investigate the EU’s authorisation procedure for pesticides, following concerns raised over the EFSA’s glyphosate risk assessment, has been backed by European Parliament political leaders. The final decision on the proposal will be taken in February by the full house (Parliament’s president and political group leaders).

The committee will assess the authorisation procedure for pesticides in the EU; potential failures in how substances are scientifically evaluated and approved; the role of the European Commission in renewing the glyphosate licence; possible conflicts of interest in the approval procedure; and the role of EU agencies, and whether they are adequately staffed and financed to fulfil their obligations.

A full report can be found here.

EFSA revises scientific opinion on 3-MCPD and its esters

January 2018

 

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published an updated scientific opinion on 3-MCPD and 3-MCPD-esters. As anticipated it establishes a revised tolerable daily intake (TDI) of 2 μg/kg bw per day. EFSA reports that the TDI is not exceeded by the adult population, however a slight exceedance of the TDI was observed in ‘high consumers’ within the younger age groups and for infants receiving formula only. It is not yet clear how this will affect the Commission’s proposals for regulation in this area.

The full scientific opinion can be viewed here.

Tender launched to survey nutritional quality of supermarket food

January 2018

 

The European Commission has launched a tender for a company to conduct a survey on the nutritional quality of food on sale in EU supermarkets. The aim of the study will be to collect national information on processed food products and to establish if a monitoring system to record fat, salt and sugars is feasible. Information collected will cover the mandatory nutrition declaration, voluntary declarations on polyols and fibre, nutrition and health claims and the list of ingredients. The survey will examine a wide range of food categories including crisps and savoury snacks and potato products. The tender for the 36-month contract will close in February.

 

ESA gathers key stakeholders in the European Parliament to discuss EU nutrition policy

23/11/2017


On 22 November 2017, ESA organised a successful and lively panel debate in the European Parliament on the subject of the European Union’s nutrition and health policy. The event was hosted by MEP Renate Sommer, a prominent member of the Committee for Environment, Health and Food Safety.

Arunas Vinčiūnas (Head of Cabinet of the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety), Ilaria Passarani from the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), and Paul Skehan (PepsiCo), exchanged views on several topical issues such as the role of the different stakeholders in addressing the obesity challenge, nutrition labelling in the EU and the integrity of the single market.

Acrylamide regulation published

23/11/2017

The Commission’s new acrylamide regulation has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union as 'Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/2158 of 20 November 2017 establishing mitigation measures and benchmark levels for the reduction of the presence of acrylamide in food'.

The regulation legally obliges food businesses to apply codes of practice (CoP) to help manage acrylamide levels in their finished products. The CoP include requirements on agronomy and storage, recipe design, and process design. They require businesses to regularly test products and ingredients, to trial new mitigation strategies where appropriate and to maintain records to demonstrate use of these controls. The requirements will apply from 11 April 2018.

The Commission has also committed to initiate discussions on the setting of maximum levels (MLs) once the regulation comes into force (20 days after publication). However, it is not clear for which foods if any, that MLs could reasonably be set. Other work includes drafting EU guidance and development of consumer and food business awareness campaigns. Existing Commission recommendations on monitoring for acrylamide will have to be amended or repealed as the current ‘indicative values’ are superseded by the much more challenging ‘benchmark levels’

French Nutri-Score labelling scheme moves forward

23/11/2017


At the end of October, the French Ministers of Health and of Agriculture, together with the Secretary of State of the Finance Ministry, jointly signed a national decree backing the voluntary adoption of the Nutri-Score nutrition labelling scheme by food business operators in France.

Nutri-Score is a front of pack labelling scheme which assigns a nutritional score to foods based upon their composition. The scores range from A (best nutritional quality) to E (poorer nutritional quality) and are displayed alongside colours (from dark green to dark orange).

Auchan, Leclerc, Intermarché, Fleury Michon, Danone and McCain (France) have already indicated they will implement Nutri-Score labelling on their products, and the French food industry federation (ANIA) has also pledged support for companies adopting the scheme. However, FoodDrinkEurope and several member states have expressed concerns through the EU’s TRIS notification system on the potential trade barriers posed by this national initiative.

REFIT evaluation and fitness checks of EU legislation on pesticides and residues

23/11/2017

 

A public consultation on the REFIT evaluation of the EU legislation on plant protection products and pesticide residues has been launched and it is open for feedback until 12 February 2018.

An additional survey, which aims to collect information as well as perceptions from stakeholders working with pesticides and pesticide residues has also been issued. The scope of this survey includes the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 on maximum residue levels of pesticides, and Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market.

The public consultation is available to view here. The stakeholder survey is open for feedback until 31 December 2017 and can be viewed here.

EFSA Scientific Opinion confirms concerns over furan

29/10/2017

On 25 October 2017, EFSA published its long awaited scientific opinion on furan in food. EFSA concluded that consumer exposure to furan and methylfurans in food could lead to possible long-term liver damage.

It concluded that the most exposed group of people are infants, mainly through consumption of ready-to-eat jarred or canned foods. Exposure in other population groups is mainly from consumption of grain-based foods and coffee, depending on age and consumer habits.

The paper contains only limited references to furan levels in nuts and savoury snacks, and it reported low levels when compared to other products. The full publication can be viewed here.

Commission issues new guidance for authorities to assess ‘dual quality’ of foods

28/09/2017


On 13 September 2017, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker referred to “dual quality” of foods as part of his annual State of the Union. Junker referred to specific examples of branded foods sold in some central and eastern European countries which were believed to be of lower quality than products sold in identical packaging elsewhere in the Union.

Following his speech, the Commission provided further guidance at the end of September to national authorities to support a better implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive where it comes to the issue of dual quality. With a budget of €1 million, the Commission’s Joint Research Centre has been mandated by President Juncker to “develop a methodology to improve food product comparative tests so that member states can discuss this issue on a sound and shared scientific basis that is the same for all.”

FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) calls on the Commission to prevent proliferation of national front of pack labelling schemes

11/09/2017


As previously informed the French government’s recommendation for the national voluntary use of the NutriScore nutrition labelling scheme was notified at EU level under the TRIS procedure on 24 April 2017.

Following this the Commission received comments from several member states highlighting issues with the scheme and the standstill period has now been extended until 25 October 2017.

FDE’s comments on the scheme suggested that any proliferation of national schemes should be avoided as they risk fragmenting the single market and could negatively impact intra-EU trade. FDE also called for a discussion on a coordinated approach to front-of-pack nutrition labelling at EU level, in close consultation and agreement with all stakeholders.

ESA announces new president

20/06/2017

Valentina Maglio, director for legal affairs and institutional relations for the Italian company Unichips has been elected new president of the European Snacks Association (ESA) following the board meeting that took place in Vienna on Tuesday 20 June. She succeeds Mathias Adank, managing director of Lorenz Snack-World Germany.

A lawyer by training, Valentina Maglio has an extensive experience of the food and drink sector both at national and European level. Before joining Unichips in 2016, she has been working more than 15 years in an international food company and was presiding the European Coffee Federation since 2014.

 

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During her two-year mandate at the helm of ESA, Valentina Maglio intends to further consolidate the position of the sector as a responsible and trustworthy partner regarding health concerns around consumers’ diets:

“Savoury snacks manufacturers have worked very hard over the past years to reformulate their products and continue to bring great flavours to millions of consumers across Europe. We are constantly innovating to meet fast evolving consumers’ preferences and changing lifestyles, be it in terms of taste, portion control or better-for-you options. We have a great story to tell and we will need to make sure our voice is heard in Brussels”.

ESA’s director general, Sebastian Emig, strongly welcomes the board’s decision and looks forward to a fruitful collaboration:

“Valentina has a deep knowledge of the legislative and policy environment impacting food manufacturers and she also knows perfectly how trade associations operate in Brussels. I’m convinced that the combination of these two elements makes her a key asset for ESA and its members”.

Import duties: customs reclassification of blanched peanuts

05/05/2017

Following the technical decision adopted by the World Customs Organisation (WCO) in October 2016 to change the current classification of blanched peanuts from ‘groundnuts, whether or not shelled or broken (excl. roasted or otherwise cooked)’ (heading 12.02) to ‘groundnuts, prepared or preserved’ (heading 20.08), ESA and FRUCOM have been working jointly to develop technical arguments in order to support the technical reservation submitted by the European Commission.

The document has been now shared with the commission, who will discuss its contents and legal arguments with EU member states. In June, the five WCO members who submitted reservations (EU, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Africa) will meet to agree on common arguments. The classification of blanched peanuts will be discussed at the WCO Council meeting in July 2017, although it is expected that the discussion will be sent back to the harmonized standards committee in September.


ESA launches campaign promoting commitment to healthy and balanced diets - 20/2/2017

 

The ESA secretariat has launched a new campaign, supported by its latest infographic ‘Savoury Snacks - A Sense of Responsibility’. The campaign is being promoted via Euractiv.com, one of the foremost Brussels-based media platforms, and has also been sent directly to stakeholders from the various European institutions.

 

ESA’s objective is to demonstrate how European savoury snack manufacturers have responded to challenges around health, with a focus on the four ESA commitments within the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.

 

The launch of the campaign coincides with the first set of meetings organised by the Maltese presidency of the council on nutrition and health, and the EU Platform meeting scheduled for 9 March.

 

Please visit the infographics section of the ESA website for more information.

 

Euractiv/ESA workshop on positive nutrition - 17/11/2016

Sponsored by ESA, a Euractiv workshop titled ‘What role for positive nutrition in the future?’ took place in Brussels on the 17 November 2016.

 

The aim of the debate was to discuss the concept of positive nutrition and how the food industry is striving to pass the latest innovations onto consumers in order to offer them products with an improved nutritional composition. The event provided a platform for ESA to share its messages on reformulation and innovation to the participants, including representatives from the European institutions.

 

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