July 28, 2006

EU health chief seeking sweeter rules on additives

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Simple rules for approving food
additives, flavourings and enzymes were proposed by the
European Union's health chief on Friday.

Under the new proposal, food and drink companies will be
bound by one single set of EU rules instead of the current
complicated system of combining 25 national laws with limited
EU legislation.

If endorsed by EU ministers and the European Parliament,
the move would mean greater consumer confidence in the safety
of food quality, according to EU Health Commissioner Markos

"Clear, harmonised rules on the safety approval and
marketing of these substances serve to protect the consumer and
boost public confidence in the food produced with them," the
Cypriot official said.

"Today's proposals ensure that these rules are based on
sound scientific advice and that consumers are afforded the
same level of safety wherever they are in the EU."

Enzymes are used as alternatives to chemicals to improve
food texture, appearance, flavour and nutritional value.
Certain food enzymes are currently not covered by EU rules, and
national legislation differs widely.

Additives are already covered by EU rules, but the aim is
to streamline and speed up evaluation of new additives. Rules
on flavourings are too complicated and some are out of date,
according to the EU executive arm.

The European Commission wants to introduce a "positive
list" of additives, flavourings and enzymes, which will be
compiled by experts from each of the 25-member states in
consultation with the European Food Safety Authority.

Under the new proposal, those ingredients already approved
at EU or national level will have to be resubmitted for

The Commission hopes to get the go ahead from EU
governments and lawmakers within two years, but companies will
have another two years to submit their applications.