FSA scrutinises EC food improvements package

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food, Food enzymes, Food additives, European union

The UK's FSA is holding a formal consultation on four proposals
within the Food Improvement Agents Package that could affect
numerous food makers.

The EC proposals cover food additives, food enzymes, flavourings and food ingredients with flavouring properties used in foods and the establishment of a common authorisation procedure for food additives, food enzymes and food flavourings.

The FSA said it was holding the consultation in order to inform its negotiating position, and responses are required by 27th November 2006. In addition, the Finnish Presidency chairing the meetings of the Council Working Groups discussing the four proposals, has invited Member States to submit written comments by 31 October 2006.

On 28 July 2006, the European Commission published proposals for European Parliament and Council Regulations aimed at clarifying and updating the existing legislation on food additives and flavourings.

Enzymes

EU-wide rules would be laid down for the evaluation, approval and control of enzymes used in food. Currently, food enzymes used during the processing of foods, but not active in the final product (processing aids) are not covered by EU legislation, and in the UK are regulated under General Food Law.

The draft regulation would allow for the establishment of a positive list of all food enzymes used in food for a technological purpose, based on favourable scientific opinions from EFSA. The proposal also includes requirements for the labelling of food enzymes other than those used as processing aids.

Additives

The new legislation aims to simplify and streamline the food additive approval system laid down in directive 89/107/EEC. The three current directives covering sweeteners, colours and 'miscellaneous additives' will be repealed and incorporated into the new regulation.

Under the new proposal, changes to the legislation will be able to be made by comitology. This allows the Commission to update and add to the EU positive list of food additives, following Member State approval at Standing Committee and a right of scrutiny by the European Parliament.

All approvals will be based on a safety evaluation carried out by EFSA. The proposal also sets out a re-evaluation system for all additives currently on the EU market, based on risk assessments from EFSA, and envisages a review of the technological aspects of all current food additive authorisations. It also includes new harmonised EU provisions for additives used in other additives.

Flavourings

The new legislation aims to update the general rules set out in directive 88/388/EEC to reflect technological and scientific developments. The proposed regulation sets out clearer rules on maximum levels for undesirable substances in line with EFSA opinions. Definitions are clarified, and stricter conditions are also introduced for the use of the term 'natural'.

Common procedure

The proposed regulation introducing a single common procedure for the approval of additives, flavourings and enzymes includes a safety evaluation by EFSA. The benefits of this common approach include simplified legislation and more consistency in the approval procedures.

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