Written QeA to EU Commission – Sugar levels in milk-based drinks for young children

Question for written answer to the Commission
Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D) – 13 March 2015

Subject: Sugar levels in milk-based drinks for young children

The Commission is currently undertaking consultation with a view to preparing a report on milk-based drinks for young children. This report will be partly informed by the 2013 report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the same subject(1), which looked at nutrient requirements and recommendations, including energy intake.

The EFSA report warned that ‘observed average energy intakes in infants and young children living in Europe are generally above the AR (average requirement)’ and that ‘energy intakes above requirements will lead to an unfavourable gain in body mass’. However, it did not draw any specific conclusions on sugar levels in milk-based drinks for young children or on their contribution to rising levels of childhood obesity and to changes in the development of children’s palates.

Given the childhood obesity crisis and the importance of developing healthy lifestyle behaviours in children, will the Commission ask the EFSA to report specifically on sugar levels in milk-based drinks for young children?

Will it consider the effect of sugar levels in milk-based drinks and their possible contribution to excess energy intake, which, as the EFSA warns, is already leading to ‘an unfavourable gain in body mass’ among children?

Will it also ask the EFSA to report on sugar levels in baby foods, such as processed cereal‐based foods?

(1) EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), ‘Scientific Opinion on nutrient requirements and dietary intakes of infants and young children in the European Union’, EFSA Journal, 2013, 11(10):3408.

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 5 May 2015

As noted by the Honourable Member, the Commission is currently preparing a report on the necessity, if any, of specific rules for milk-based drinks and similar products intended for young children (also known as young-child formulae), pursuant to Article 12 of Regulation (EU) No 609/2013(1).

In preparation for this report, the Commission consulted the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which provided its views on young-child formulae, including on their composition and role in the diet of young children(2). The report will take into account EFSA’s views as well as other elements (including the outcome of consultations with Member States, NGOs and relevant stakeholders). No additional consultation with EFSA is considered necessary, at this stage, on young-child formulae.

With respect to processed cereal-based food and baby food for infants and young children, the Commission intends to request EFSA’s advice in the future for the purpose of reviewing the compositional requirements laid down in the legislation for these products.

The Commission supports Member States’ action to promote healthy lifestyles and provide education on diet and physical activity among children so as to help prevent obesity and related health problems. This support takes place through the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity(3) and the EU platform for action on diet, physical activity and health(4) and through projects co-financed under the Health Programme(5).

(1) OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, p. 35.
(2) EFSA NDA Panel (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies), 2013. Scientific Opinion on nutrient requirements and dietary intakes of infants and young children in the European Union. EFSA Journal 2013;11(10):3408; EFSA NDA Panel (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies), 2014. Scientific Opinion on the essential composition of infant and follow-on formulae. EFSA Journal 2014;12(7):3760.
(3) http://ec.europa.eu/health/nutrition_physical_activity/high_level_group/index_en.htm
(4) http://ec.europa.eu/health/nutrition_physical_activity/platform/index_en.htm
(5) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32014R0282&from=EN

(Source: EU Parliament)

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