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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.

Videos and pictures are available here on the ESA website. Please do not hesitate to contact the ESA secretariat for highlights of the event.

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 Existing Commission recommendations on monitoring for acrylamide will have to be amended or repealed as the current ‘indicative values’ are superseded by the much more challenging ‘benchmark levels’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.

French review of maximum residue levels (MRL) for fosetyl in nuts

29/10/2017

France, the rapporteur country responsible for overseeing the application on the review of the MRL of fosetyl in tree nuts, has now concluded its analysis and has sent its dossier to EFSA for evaluation.

In its report, France supports an MRL of 400-500mg/kg of fosetyl-Al for the tree nut group. However, until both EFSA and the Commission complete their respective evaluations, the temporary MRL of 75mg/kg of fosetyl-Al will remain in place.

Under the current agreement the temporary MRL is applicable until 1 March 2019. After that date the lower limit of analytical determination of 2mg/kg will be applicable, unless it is modified by a subsequent regulation.

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.


European Parliament adopts draft report on revision of Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive

25/04/2017

As a reminder, the AVMS Directive sets out the basic rules for TV and video-on-demand advertising. It includes specific provisions on food advertising, as well as advertising to children and self-regulation.

After several weeks of intense discussions, the culture and education committee of the European Parliament voted to maintain a proportionate approach to advertising restrictions. For food and beverage advertising further restrictions were avoided thanks to the adoption of a compromise amendment, which maintains the current support for self- and co-regulatory codes for the advertising of food and beverages high in fat, sugar and salt in children’s programmes.

A proposal by the European Commission to extend the application of these codes to programmes with a significant child audience was rejected, as was an explicit reference to the nutrient profiling model of the WHO regional office for Europe. Restrictions on product placement (currently limited to children’s programmes) are extended to 'content aimed primarily at children' and to user-generated content. The scope of application of the rules governing advertising, sponsorship and product placement were extended to video-sharing platforms.

 

Official controls: new regulation finally published

7/04/2017

The long-awaited Regulation (EU) 2017/625 on official controls, repealing Regulation (EU) 882/2004, was published on 7 April in the Official Journal.

The new regulation will apply mainly from 14 December 2019, with various implementation dates for certain provisions regarding inter alia EU reference laboratories, standardisation of official certificates, and the Information Management System for Official Controls (IMSOC) that will link all existing (and future) computer systems, such as TRACES and RASFF.

More information is available at the updated Commission’s webpage on official controls and the related question and answers document.

 

Front-of-pack (FoP) Labelling: 6 companies announce initiative for evolved colour-coded nutrition label

09/03/2017

On 8 March 2017, 6 major food and drink companies (Coca-Cola, Mars, Mondelez, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever) announced their intentions to develop a colour-coded front-of-pack (FoP) nutrition labelling scheme. The proposed labelling scheme will be based on the colour-coded reference Intakes (RI) scheme (‘traffic light’ scheme), but will use portion sizes rather than content per 100 g/100 ml to determine the colour on the label.

The announcement has received mixed reactions so far. While consumer groups are mostly supportive, the portion approach has been criticised. Meanwhile, some food companies have raised concerns over re-opening the debate on portion sizes and nutrient profiles.

The signatories of the initiative have committed to set up a taskforce to further consider the details, which ESA will join.


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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WHO Europe calls on governments to protect children from digital marketing of foods - 04/11/2016

The WHO regional office for Europe has published a comprehensive new report titled ‘tackling food marketing to children in a digital world: trans-disciplinary perspectives’, which calls on policy-makers to protect children from online marketing of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS).

 

The aim of the report is to summarise the evidence on children’s exposure to HFSS food marketing in digital media and demonstrate its persuasive power. The authors identify a lack of effective regulation of digital marketing and call on governments to create statutory regulations in order to protect children.

 

European Council adopts conclusions on food product improvement - 17/06/2016
On 17 June, the EU Council of Health Ministers adopted its conclusions on food product improvement, which reflect elements of the Dutch Presidency’s roadmap for action agreed in February.

The conclusions call for member states to implement national plans for food improvement by the end of 2017, with progress reports (including best practice and results) shared every two years. They also call on the European Commission to assess existing benchmarks for the reduction of salt and saturated fats, meaning that discussions on a renewed framework initiative could start very soon.

FoodDrinkEurope’s statement supporting the adoption of the conclusions is available to view here.


 


 
 
 
 
 
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