Hard times for industrial trans fats: EU upcoming legal limit and FDA moves

The EU Commission recently launched a public consultation on a draft Regulation setting a legal limit for trans fat, other than trans fat naturally occurring in animal fat, in foods intended for the final consumer.

The consultation will be open until 1st November 2018 and anybody can participate.

The draft Regulation is pretty straightforward and it is made of just 2 articles.

Basically it states that, after EFSA opinion suggesting to limit as much as possible the intake of industrial trans fat – and the following assessment of the EU Commission about the viable options to reach this goal – setting a limit was the only realistic option to protect public health.

Therefore art. 1 states that in Part B of Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 1925/2006 (on fortification of food and substances that might add to food and supplements), the following entry is added:

Trans fat

The following conditions shall apply:

a. The content of trans fat, other than trans fat naturally occurring in animal fat, in food which is intended for the final consumer, shall not exceed 2 grams per 100 grams of fat.

b. The definitions of “fat” and of “‘trans fat” set out respectively in points (2) and (4) of Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 1169/2011 shall apply.”

Therefore, the limit would not be applicable to B2B foods, provided that they are used in a way that grants no more that 2 g T-fat/100 g fat on the final products.

A transitional period is given by art. 2: food which does not comply with this draft Regulation may continue to be placed on the market until 1 April 2021.

In the meantime I remember to all our readers that in 2015, US FDA determined that PHOs (partially hydrogenated oils), the major source of artificial trans fat in the food supply, are no longer “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS). For the majority of uses of PHOs, June 18, 2018, remains the date after which manufacturers cannot add PHOs to foods, without filing a specific GRAS petition affirming the safety of use. However, to allow for an orderly transition in the marketplace, FDA is allowing more time for products produced prior to June 18, 2018 to work their way through distribution. FDA is extending the compliance date for these foods to January 1, 2020.

You can find the FDA related resources here.

QeA EU Commission to EU Parliament – Allergens declaration on non pre-packed food

A useful reminder of the Commission on a principle that was not so clearly expressed into the legislation and still is not accepted by all the mass caterers and restaurants. See the last sentence in bold.

Question for written answer to the Commission – 5th June 2018 

Some of my constituents have alerted me to the fact that some Member States are apparently not requiring allergen information to be provided in restaurants and other food outlets. In order to determine whether these states are in breach of EC law, clarification is needed on the interpretation of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, which sets out the EU’s rules on consumer information on allergens in non-prepacked food.

On 13 July 2017, the Commission issued a notice updating allergen information requirements.

Under Article 9(1) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, food business operators are required to provide allergen information, including for non-prepacked food.

Article 44 authorises Member States to adopt national measures concerning the means through which this information is made available. Member States are required to notify the Commission when such measures have been adopted.

Given that the regulation is being applied differently from one Member State to another:

  1. Is the Commission assessing the national measures in order to determine whether they are consistent with the meaning and purpose of the regulation and whether Member States have gone beyond the terms of authorisation granted to them?
  2. What are the criteria for assessing how well consumers are being alerted to the presence of allergens?
  3. Can Member States, in the context of their national measures, choose to disregard the obligations set out in Article 13 of the regulation in the case of non-prepacked food and provide allergen information only when requested by consumers?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 16th July

Under Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, Member States may adopt national measures concerning the means through which information on allergens on non-prepacked foods is to be made available.

In principle, all means of communication as regards the provision of allergen information are allowed to enable the consumer to make an informed choice, e.g. a label, other accompanying material, or any other means including modern technology tools or verbal communication (i.e. verifiable oral information). In this respect, the majority of the Member States have already adopted such national rules following their prior notification to the Commission.

In the context of the aforesaid notifications, the draft national measures in question have been evaluated by the Commission in the light of the relevant EU provisions, including Article 13 of the regulation.

In particular, it has been assessed whether the information on allergens is available and easily accessible, so the consumer is informed that the non-prepacked food raises issues relating to allergens and intolerances. In this context, it is not compliant with the EU legislation to provide allergen information only upon request by the consumer.

(Source: EU Parliament)