Changes to European Union laws that govern specialised foods like sports, infant and gluten-free foods have been backed – as expected – by a European Parliament committee.
"Only vulnerable people, who really need specific foods for their physiological and nutritional balance, will be covered by this new regulation,” said MEP and rapporteur for the new regulation on special foods, Frédérique Ries.
“Infants, young children and seriously ill people clearly are not consumers like any other and it is our duty as a legislator to fix stricter rules to govern, for example, the composition and labelling of foodstuffs intended for them."
A European Parliament statement said: “The changes were proposed due to problems faced by both consumers and authorities in distinguishing between foods for normal consumption and those intended for specific groups.”
The new laws abolish the notion of most dietetic foods as these have been cannibalised by functional food offerings administered by other legislation including gluten-free foods, sports foods and slimming products.
The deal now needs to be formally approved by Parliament and the Council. Parliament will put it to a plenary vote in the spring, and the rules will take effect three years thereafter.
All the various specialist foods currently fall under the existing PARNUTS (foods for particular nutritional purposes) regulation. The PARNUTs food sector represents between 1 to 2% of the European food market and is pegged at around €24bn.