QeA to EU Commission – Allergy to apples ?!

In EU, as well as in USA and other countries with different allergens requirements (e.g. Japan), the choice of the legislator is to specifically consider as “allergens” – for labeling purposes – only the so called “major allergens”: substances which account for the major % of food allergies found in the local population. 

It could happen that some allergies are not considered (think of garlic, strawberries…) by the legislator, so it is up to the consumer to check the ingredient list (where everything should be declared).

Those evaluations could nonetheless change in time, as explained by the EU Commission.

Question for written answer to the Commission

Tomáš Zdechovský (PPE) – 15th June 2016

Subject: Allergy to apples

Allergy to apples is affecting more and more people. It is an allergy which can manifest itself at any age.

The most common symptoms include tingling lips and itching or sore throat, as well as swelling or sneezing. A research project called SAFE was conducted across Europe to explore the occurrence of combined apple-pollen allergies. The research shows that the new varieties of apple have a greater impact on those affected.

The research also suggests that there is a geographical division between south and north, and that there are two specific types of apple allergy. In the north there are people allergic to raw apple pulp, while people from the south are allergic to the skin in all of its forms, whether raw or cooked.

The research shows that the form the allergy takes is influenced not only by the amount of the allergen in the apple, but also by the variety of apple and the storage conditions.

Has the Commission conducted any research into apple allergy and its impact on European consumers or is it planning to conduct such a research?

How is the EU protecting its consumers against this allergy?

Answer given by  Mr Moedas on behalf of the Commission – 1st September 2016

Research on allergies has been supported by the European Commission since the 5th Framework Programme, when the Safe project was funded. Currently, five projects are dealing with allergies to apples (Safe, Fast, Caramel, iFAAM, Europrevall) with total EU funding of more than EUR 28 million. Horizon 2020 also offers the possibility to receive funding to carry out research on apple allergy (see Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Participant Portal).

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 requires, for all food, the mandatory provision of information on the presence of allergens whenever they are used in food as an ingredient. It also requires that such information must be emphasised on food labels through a typeset that clearly distinguishes it from the rest of the list of ingredients. The EU list of allergens is provided in its Annex II and has been established on the basis of a scientific opinion adopted by the European Food Safety Authority. According to this, the substances of Annex II are considered as part of the most common food allergens and there is ample evidence to support their inclusion into the list.

The regulation foresees a systematic re-examination of the allergen list and, when necessary, it is updated on the basis of the most recent scientific knowledge. At this stage, there are no available scientific data to support the inclusion of apples into the allergen list.

Nevertheless, when apple has been used as an ingredient in food, its present products, used in the production or preparation of food and still present in the finished product, must be stated in the list of ingredients

(Source: EU Parliament)

Written QA to EU Commission – China’s dubious food imports

Question for written answer
to the Commission 
Rule 117
Andreas Mölzer (NI) (20th March 2014)

Subject:  Dubious food imports from China

Since food from China is often considerably lower priced than domestic food, imports from the Middle Kingdom have been steadily increasing in the past few years. However, this is problematic because certain pesticides are allowed in Chinese agriculture that are forbidden in the Member States. According to a newspaper report, increasing quantities of fish, apples, strawberries and jam in particular are from China.

It seems that China is way ahead in terms of statistics for food that has attracted attention on arrival in the EU. In 2013 an EU food authority is said to have reported Chinese imports to the EU-wide Rapid Alert System no fewer than 435 times. Tests show the presence of genetically-modified ingredients, pesticides and even heavy metals.

1. How high is China’s share of food products imported into the EU?

2. What consequences can be drawn for inspections of food imports from countries that are reported so many times in the EU-wide Rapid Alert System?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission (13th May 2014)

1. China is the fourth commercial partner of the EU as regards the total trade in agricultural and fishery products and accounted for 4.85% of the imports into the EU of these products in 2012.

2. As part of the comprehensive body of legislation in place to ensure that food imported into the Union complies with EU safety requirements, the Commission established in 2010 a list of food and feed of non-animal origin which on the basis of known or emerging risk require an increased level of controls prior to their introduction into the EU. The list appears in Annex I to Regulation (EC) 669/2009 and is regularly reviewed on the basis of information sources which include data resulting from notifications received through the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. At present the list features, amongst others, frozen strawberries, ‘Chinese Broccoli’, pomelos and tea originating from China.

When required, more stringent import conditions such as the compulsory presentation of results of sampling and analysis and of a health certificate verified by authorised representatives of the country of origin are adopted. This regime is at present applicable to a number of commodities including groundnuts originating from China due to the possible contamination with aflatoxins and rice products originating from China due to the possible presence of unauthorised genetically modified rice. Special conditions such as the suspension of imports of the food or feed in question can also be imposed if needed.

(Source: European Parliament)