Denmark opening up on fortified foods?

Related tags European union Nutrition Denmark

A new policy on fortified foods in Denmark, which has blocked a
number of new launches from leading cereals brand Kellogg's, has in
fact 'liberalised' the market, despite recent negative press,
suggests one of the decision makers.

Paolo Drostby, deputy head of division at the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, said the new policy, which requires all fortified products to undergo an individual risk assessment, has allowed about eight new vitamin-enriched drinks and other products onto the market this year.

Prior to this, the products would not have reached Danish consumers, protected by one of Europe's strictest policies on food fortification.

"This is definitely a liberalisation. Under our previous procedure these products would not have been allowed as the nutrients they contain are not required by the population. But now, whether there is a need or not, we allow products that are deemed to be safe,"​ Drostby told

Last week the rejection by Danish food authorities of 18 new cereals and cereal bars made by Kelloggs made headlines​, as most of these products are already sold around the world and trusted by consumers as safe.

But it is not the first time Denmark's policy on food fortification has stood out for its severity. Last year the European Court of Justice ruled that Denmark must carry out risk assessments before outlawing fortified products from the market. This ruling prompted the development of the new procedure to assess product applications.

The new model, being used by Denmark's authorities since the beginning of the year, is based on a safety assessment approach developed by Irish researchers, adapted to include daily multivitamin consumption (half of all Danes are thought to take multivitamins) and safe nutrient levels for children.

This model may find foods with added calcium, iron or B6 - shown in a 1995 dietary survey to be consumed in high quantities in Denmark - to pose a risk, particularly to children, by lifting dietary intake above the upper safe levels for vitamins and minerals established by the European scientific committee on food.

But foods containing levels of nutrients unlikely to have much impact on dietary intake, or nutrients with few known risks, may reach the market more easily now.

"A nutrient like B12 can be consumed in very large quantities without doing much damage,"​ said Drostby.

He added that when the first fortified foods were approved for the market in May this year, this also made headlines in the national press. But the approvals to date remain in the minority of the approximately 50 applications overall this year.

The policy could change again when Europe passes a proposed regulation on fortification. But it may also look to the Danish policy, one of the first to require individual product safety assessments, to inform the Europe-wide procedure.

"At the moment I don't see anything that would drastically change the procedure. It is consistent with the ECJ ruling and risk assessment is included in the proposal tabled by the Commission,"​ noted Drostby.

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