EU to harmonise rules on vitamins added to food

The Commission has proposed a new regulation establishing harmonised rules on the voluntary addition of vitamins, minerals and other substances to food products.

The new regulation proposes the creation of a list of
approved vitamins and minerals which could be added to food. Under
the proposal, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) would carry
out the assessment of any possible risk to human health. The
Standing Commmittee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (which
comprises Commission and government experts), would establish
criteria (based on EFSA’s scientific advice) for minimum and
maximum levels for the different nutrients added to food.

The regulation would define clear labelling
requirements to inform consumers about the vitamin and mineral
content of food products in relation to the amount needed in a
healthy diet.

Fresh food, including fruit, vegetables or meat,
would be preserved in their natural state, with no addition of
vitamins or minerals permitted. The same restriction would apply to
alcoholic drinks – in line with efforts to combat alcohol
abuse.

 

The
European Breakfast Cereal Association (CEEREAL)
welcomed the Commission's initiative to create a harmonised legal
framework for fortified foods. "This proposal will allow breakfast
cereal manufacturers to respond to consumer demand throughout the
EU, by continuing to fortify our products in a responsible and
beneficial manner, while ensuring the highest level of consumer
protection," said CEEREAL Chairman of the Steering Committee Jeremy
Preston.

While welcoming this new legislative proposal,
BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation has
warned that "fortification should not promote poor eating habits"
and therefore the fortification of food high in fat, sugar and salt
should not be permitted. BEUC also warns that "the addition of
vitamins and minerals should not discriminate against foods which
naturally contain a particular vitamin or mineral." For instance,
BEUC believes that a product should not claim that it contains 20
per cent more calcium than milk on the basis that milk not only
naturally contains calcium, but also provides other nutritional
benefits.

 

On 10 November, the Commission proposed a new regulation
designed to harmonise rules for the voluntary addition of vitamins,
minerals and other substances (including herbal extracts) to foods
in the EU.

Foods are generally "fortified" with nutrients
(vitamins and minerals) to replace some of the nutritional value
lost during their processing or storage, or to enhance the
nutritional value of food products by adding nutrients that are not
normally contained in that food item.

 

The proposal will need the approval of both the Council and
Parliament under the co-decision procedure.

 

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