Additives, maximum levels and 'fresh produce'?

Related tags Maximum levels Nutrition

The Commission recently discussed some of the Member States'
comments on its proposal to regulate fortified foods and adding
vitamins and other nutrients.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the UK has reported on recent discussions with the European Commission on the proposal for regulations for addition of vitamins and minerals to foods (the Preliminary Draft Proposal for a Regulation on the Addition of Vitamins and Minerals and of Certain Other Substances to Foods. (SANCO/329/2003).

The Commission is hoping to move the proposal forward so that it can 'catch up' with the Claims proposal. Both proposals could be submitted to the Council/European Parliament before the summer break.

In its proposal, the FSA​, representing the UK, queried several areas, such as whether the regulation was intended to cover foods fortified through additions made to animal feed. The Commission had not considered that scenariobut suggested it might be more appropriate to control this through animal feed legislation. It was also suggested that the place for the legislative control could be determined on whether the addition was made for the benefit of the animal or of the consumer of the product.

There was also some discussion about the intended meaning of 'fresh produce' and suggestions were made that it could be replaced by 'unprocessed produce'. The Commission agreed to rethink the definition and welcomed suggestions for this.

Some Member States felt that fortification should only be permitted for clear public health reasons and were concerned that voluntary fortification could undermine healthy eating messages. However the Commission suggested that this and the Claims proposal could be viewed together and that limitations on fortification would be provided by setting ofmaximum levels, the requirement for vitamins and minerals to be added at a 'significant amount' and the narrow margins between Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNIs) and Safe Upper Levels (SULs) for some nutrients.

Regarding maximum levels, the Commission said that when these are set, decisions may need to be made about which foods may be fortified; if the significant amount required for the addition of nutrients remains at 15 per cent RDA, it will not be practical for some products. In addition, for vitamins or minerals with a narrow margin between the RNI and SUL, it may be necessary only to allow fortification of certain foods in order to ensure that safe intakes are not exceeded, the FSA reports.

Further, with respect to additives, the maximum level of a vitamin or mineral would cover the total amount of that vitamin or mineral added whatever the purpose.

The UK asked whether the maximum levels, when set, would apply to the quantity of vitamin or mineral in a product at the end of its shelf-life and pointed out that, for some vitamins, manufacturers add more than the declared quantity during production so that the amount present at end of shelf-life is at least equal to the declared quantity. TheCommission said this was an important issue that should be dealt with along with tolerances in the review of 90/496/EC.

Others were strongly of the opinion that if the maximum level was set on grounds of safety then it must never be exceeded (even at the beginning of shelf-life).

The Commission also said that it did not intend the labelling of foods to which vitamins/minerals had been added to indicate the specific purpose for the addition (i.e.restoration/substitution/fortification). The UK asked whether addition of a mandatorily fortified food (e.g. margarine) to another food (e.g. a cake) as an ingredient would be considered indirect fortification and would then trigger nutrition labelling. The Commission had not previously thought about this issue but felt thatwith abolition of the 25 per cent rule the ingredient list would, in this example, automatically include all components of the margarine.

The Commission acknowledged that some substances (in Annex 1 of the proposal) currently did nothave Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) in the Nutrition Labelling Directive 90/496/EC, which is to be dealt with in the forthcoming review of the directive. It also pointed out that the SCF has recently adopted a report making recommendations on RDAs for a range of nutrients.

Member States have a further two weeks to submit comments to the Commission.

Related topics Regulation & Policy

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more