Q&A to EU Commission – Labelling of nanomaterials and food additives – Which future for this indication?

The following Q&A is of great interest because enlightens the core of the discussion about nanomaterials. How they will be defined? Will the food additives be exempted from the labelling requirements provided by the FIC Regulation or not?

The two questions are strictly connected, because the definition of nanomaterial and the quantification of what is intended for “nano”, is the necessary premise of the exemption.

Nanotechnologies at the moment are not so used in “food”: most of the applications are in the food additives and in the food contact materials sectors. That is why the debate is so important and is so difficult to find an agreement about the definition of “nano”.

By the way, the definition at the moment  included in the FIC Regulation (n. 1169/2011, art. 2, par. 1, lett. t ) is the following:

“engineered nanomaterial’ means any intentionally produced material that has one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nm or less or that is composed of discrete functional parts, either internally or at the surface, many of which have one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nm or less, including structures, agglomerates or aggregates, which may have a size above the order of 100 nm but retain properties that are characteristic of the nanoscale.

Properties that are characteristic of the nanoscale include:

(i) those related to the large specific surface area of the materials considered; and/or

(ii) specific physico-chemical properties that are different from those of the non-nanoform of the same material;”

Question for written answer
to the Commission 
Rule 117
Marc Tarabella (S&D) (20th March 2014)

Subject:  Labelling of nanomaterials

Parliament rejected by 402 votes to 258, with 14 abstentions, the draft regulation proposed by the Commission on the labelling of nanomaterials in food products. Why? Because the Commission had excluded food additives from the labelling requirements.

Parliament has thus confirmed the vote of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

This rejection is a vote in favour of consumers, so that they can be informed of all the nanomaterials in the foods they consume, including food additives.

What is the Commission’s reaction to this and what does it intend to do now?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission (28th April 2014)

The new requirements on the labelling of ‘engineered nanomaterials’ present in food apply from 13 December 2014 on the basis of the definition laid down in Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011.

The Commission has taken good note of the Resolution of the European Parliament and of the discussions in the Council regarding the draft delegated Regulation on the definition of ‘engineered nanomaterial’. The Commission is currently discussing the options and reflecting on the best way forward so as to adapt the definition in the light of new scientific and technological developments whilst addressing the concerns expressed by the Parliament.

(Source: European Parliament website)

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