12 January - 20 June 2016

Legislation headlines

9 Jan 13

**EFSA launches public consultation on its draft scientific opinion on the safety of artificial sweetener aspartame
**Poland bans the cultivation of GM crops
**ERNA publishes guidelines on Nutrition & Health Claim Regulation
**Guidance on the use of children as brand ambassadors and in peer-to-peer marketing
**Environment Secretary discusses issues such as GM, research and farming at Oxford conference
**Latest research published by the Food Standards Agency
**Government urged to introduce legal limits on sugar, fat and salt content in food
**EFSA updates advice on mercury in food
**Scientific opinions

**EFSA launches public consultation on its draft scientific opinion on the safety of artificial sweetener aspartame
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a public consultation on its draft scientific opinion on the safety of the artificial sweetener aspartame. To carry out this full risk assessment, EFSA has undertaken an in-depth review of peer-reviewed scientific and other literature on aspartame and its breakdown products, including new human studies. All stakeholders and interested parties are invited to comment on the draft opinion through the online public consultation by 15 February 2013. As part of this important process and the Authority’s commitment to actively engaging with stakeholders, EFSA will also hold a meeting with interested parties to discuss its draft opinion and the feedback received from the online public consultation.

** Poland bans the cultivation of GM crops
According to Europolitics, Poland has ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops, which will affect the two crops Monstanto’s MON810 maize and BASF’s Amflora potatoes authorised at the moment.  The decision will come into force on 28 January. Seven other EU member states have already imposed bans on the cultivation of GM crops approved by the EFSA as safe: Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece and Bulgaria.

**ERNA publishes guidelines on Nutrition & Health Claim Regulation
European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA) has published guidelines to assist food operators when applying the principles and requirements of the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation 1924/2006 (NHCR).  They state: “These guidelines are not intended to replace legislation or modify its intention. They are intended to help food operators to apply the rules in the spirit and within the scope of what was intended. Several aspects of the NHCR are very clear and should not be interpreted in more lenient ways. Other aspects however leave room for appreciation and should also not be interpreted in more restrictive ways than what is provided. The EC, Member States and EFSA have already issued guidance on a number of aspects of the NHCR. Although such guidance has no legal authority, it provides strong indications on how the provisions of the NHCR will be applied.”

**Guidance on the use of children as brand ambassadors and in peer-to-peer marketing
A new review has been published by the UK Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) which provides guidance on the use of children as brand ambassadors and in peer to peer marketing and also includes online marketing.  It addresses parental concerns and ensures regulation of children’s engagement.  In brief the guidance, draws on upon existing CAP Code rules and clarifies that it must: 
•Be obviously identifiable as marketing activity; and will give examples on how that can be achieved;
•Do nothing that is likely to result in the physical, mental or moral harm of children;
•Not make children feel inferior or unpopular if they do not have a product or do not engage in peer-to-peer marketing and confirm that all rules in CAP’s dedicated Children’s section apply; and
•Be prepared with a sense of social responsibility.

**Environment Secretary discusses issues such as GM, research and farming at Oxford conference
Environment Secretary Own Paterson has addressed the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference, noting that this has been a tough year in terms of droughts, torrential rain and floods, which have caused pressure on prices, high feed costs and diseases, including bovine TB and Schmallenberg.  He reports that farming produces food for 63.5 million people and adds nearly £90 billion to the UK economy.  He discusses investment in flood prevention and also notes that the UK Government is investing over £410 million annually in research in the agriculture, food and drink sector.  He mentions how he is working closely with the Science Minister on the Agi-Tech Strategy, to investigated how to best capitalise on the UK’s science and technology base to increase competiveness in the agricultural sector, and food security and how to translate research into new products, processes and technologies.  He talks about the consideration of using GM and the balanced understanding of the risks and benefits.    He urges farmers to report back to him about how regulation affects them and their businesses, day in day out, in order to work to improve the system. He discusses export of British food and his recent visits to China and Hong Kong and discussion with Russia, who have lifted its ban on UK beef and lamb imports.  He states: “2013 is an important year for CAP reform. That is why I plan to attend all of the Agriculture Council meetings in person. I am working hard to build alliances with other Member States, both in the Council and the Parliament.” (Defra)

**Latest research published by the Food Standards Agency
The Food Standards Agency has produced a summary of its research published in November and December 2012. It includes an evaluation of cross-contamination guidance and a review of decision-making for authorised officers in local authorities.  Serious outbreaks of E coli O157 in Scotland and Wales resulted in deaths and serious long-term health problems for people.  In response, the FSA established a programme of work to reduce the risk of similar outbreaks occurring in the future.  In 2011, the Agency embarked on the development and dissemination of new guidance for industry and enforcement officers. The guidance was based on principles that were subject to a formal public consultation in 2010. Another study, Evaluation of interventions: Qualitative review of food safety regulatory decision-making, aimed to explore authorised officers’ regulatory decision-making and identify a number of factors which affect it. This included the ‘mindset’ of regulators, the response by food business operators and the influence of external factors.

**Government urged to introduce legal limits on sugar, fat and salt content in food
The Department in Health is reporting that its’ Responsibility Deal with food companies is working, however the Labour Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham disagrees.  He is urging the government to consider introducing legal limits on sugar, salt and fat content in food, especially those aimed at children, to help tackle obesity.   The BBC quote the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as saying that the government was "making very good progress" in tackling childhood obesity, telling the BBC the Responsibility Deal has led to "significant reductions" in the salt, fat and sugar content of supermarket foods. He noted: "The reality is that supermarkets and the food manufacturers need to understand that we do reserve the right to legislate.  This is not a problem we can just wish away. If we don't meet our targets and continue to make the progress that we have to make, then we would consider legislation. We have been able to deliver much faster results by going for voluntary agreements... but if we don't get that agreement, let's be absolutely clear, we will look at legislation. We are utterly determined to grip the problem."   The Food and Drink Federation state: "Through voluntary commitments, manufacturers have made significant progress in reducing salt, saturated fat and calories in their products. Salt levels have reduced 9% since 2006 and some manufacturers have introduced calorie caps in particular for snacks and soft drinks."

**EFSA updates advice on mercury in food
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has established Tolerable Weekly Intakes (TWIs), or ‘safe levels’, intended to protect consumers from adverse health effects posed by the possible presence of the main forms of mercury found in food: methylmercury and inorganic mercury. Methylmercury is the predominant form of mercury in fish and other seafood, and is particularly toxic to the developing nervous system including the brain. Whereas average exposure to methylmercury in food is unlikely to exceed the TWI, the likelihood of reaching such a level increases for high and frequent fish consumers. This group may include pregnant women, resulting in exposure of the fetus at a critical period in brain development. Inorganic mercury is less toxic and can also be found in fish and other seafood as well as ready-made meals. Exposure to inorganic mercury through food is unlikely to exceed the TWI for most people, unless combined with other sources of exposure. (quoted directly)

**Scientific opinions

Liriomyza huidobrensis and Liriomyza trifolii pest risk assessment

Mercury and methylmercury in food

Review of the existing MRLs for cyazofamid

Review of the existing maximum residue levels (MRLs) for sulfosulfuron

Assessment of the scientific elements put forward by Hungary to support the prohibition for the placing on the market of GM potato EH92-527-1

Scientific Opinion on the safety and efficacy of vitamin A

Miya-Gold for chickens for fattening and reared for laying and minor avian species

Lactobacillus plantarum (NCIMB 30083 and NCIMB 30084) for all species

Scientific Opinion on the risk posed by pathogens in food of non-animal origin. Part 1 (outbreak data analysis and risk ranking of food/pathogen combinations)

Enterococcus faecium (CNCM I-3236) for all species

Peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance Phlebiopsis gigantea

Peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance Trichoderma polysporum strain IMI 206039

Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance pyrethrins

Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance Pythium oligandrum strain M1

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